Friday, March 02, 2012

Our Tree


Yesterday was a sad day at Casa J. 

Let me explain:

We have a moderately large grassy yard that is dominated by a giant Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum). It's probably 70+ years old. 

 This is a wonderful old tree and in the summer it has a gigantic canopy that shades the entire side yard. 

It actually brushes up against the house, which is easily 30 feet away:
 We've spent a lot of time under this tree:

 It's been the backdrop for countless photos:

Christmas day:
 Ben's five month birthday picture:
 Mama and baby:
And, of course, in the fall it drops thousands of leaves:
 The chickens loved the leaf piles:

 Bailey was also known to take a leaf bath on occasion. 

So when we had an aborist come out a few weeks ago to give us an estimate for a little trim job, we were disappointed when informed that the tree was rotted through. We've known for years that keeping this guy alive was a losing proposition: you can't see it in this picture but there is a 4' deep hole (wide enough for me to stand in) going down the middle of the trunk. It made an ideal raccoon den until we tacked a bit of chicken wire across the holes a few years ago.

Given the extent of the rot, the aborist was surprised it hadn't come crashing down in the wind storms we've had recently. Unfortunately, we have lost a number of massive limbs lately - some easily big enough to kill somebody - and with the advent of warmer weather and a baby that it close to walking, we decided that having such a hazard in our prime play area was a bad idea. 

A second tree expert agreed with the first and so we got a few bids and made an appointment. It feels silly telling you that we were bummed out and bemoaning the loss of our tree. But it's true - I loved having this guy in the yard. I always gave directions in the following manner: "Look for the brick house back on the hill with the giant maple tree standing beside it."

But, once we made the decision, there was no use waiting around. We wanted to have it down before it leaved out and nesting season began. I was still moping around though. 

So here was the tree on Wednesday afternoon (you can see that it was previously trimmed):

And then Thursday morning: 

I was really pleased with the work our tree guy did. I was also thankful it wasn't me up there. 

We ended up using Urban Aborist Tree Care in Ballard. They were efficient and reasonably-priced.

Sorry about the bad photos. I was trying to take pictures on my phone (on the sly) and I failed both in being sneaky and taking in-focus picture. 
Suddenly, the rotted core becomes shockingly apparent:

You should have seen the limbs rocking under his weight. Our tree guy said that a few of the most massive branches were only hanging on by a thread. 
Not a whole lot left, at this point. Unfortunately, I had to leave for Co-Op and didn't get to see the rest of the trunk get removed. 

When we returned home, this is what was left: The stump grinder guy.

And they're done.  I'm not sure what our plans are for the area. In the short term, we'll probably re-seed the area with grass and have a playing area for the bambino. 

So this is the main trunk. Despite being bummed out about the loss of our tree, I was glad we made the decision to have it removed, given the extent of the rot. 

You know what's funny: I had grand plans to make a nice coffee table out of a chunk of the stump. You know, get a good 4-inch cross-section, attach some legs, and brush on a nice clear coat. Voila! A very cool coffee table made out of our dear tree!  

Well, that's not gonna happen now. Unless I want one with a hole in the middle:

Maybe I could slice it thinly and hang it on the wall. Log cabin art?

Not sure how big the tree was? Here it is with a 100-pound dog in the middle (for proportion):

And, that my dears, was our Thursday.