big tree

By this time tomorrow, our big tree will be a pile of firewood and mulch:

It's a silver maple, a big one, probably as old as or older than the house we live in (built in 1952). The canopy of this tree covers the whole sky in our back yard.

I have a love-hate relationship with this tree, to be honest. It's big and provides lots of shade in the summer. It's home to more than a few wild critters like squirrels and nuthatches and more than enough crows. But it also sprawls over neighboring roofs, drops sticks everywhere and makes a complete mess of the gutters every fall and spring. 

I'm told that this tree is surprisingly healthy, given its age, but all silver maples reach a point where they become a menace to their surroundings. Their wood is weak, and the trunks divide low to the ground, so every time we have a thunderstorm or a particularly windy night, I worry that a big piece of it will break off and wreak havoc on our roof or someone else's. 

We've been debating having the silver maple taken out for a couple of years now, but now it really is time. We are planning a major remodeling/addition project next year, and the tree wouldn't survive the excavation. Taking it out now means no leaf mess in the fall, and gives us more driveway space.

Last night we told the next-door neighbors (the nice ones, not the one who calls her lawyer when we ask her to please move her flower pots out of the driveway), and they asked "Will you miss it?" I said I wasn't sure. I think for all the reasons listed above, we'll be glad it's gone. But it will make the yard feel empty, naked, exposed. It's going to be, for lack of a better word, ugly, back there before we can build it up to be nice again. Eventually I want a nice vegetable garden, a patio, a stone path with irish moss growing in the cracks and flowers along the sides, perhaps even a shed that isn't sheltering 8,000 chipmunks (the one we have is rather decrepit and just sitting atop some concrete blocks - critter heaven).

We'll also need to replace the tree, but that won't happen until after the construction is done. Like everything else we want to do with the house, we'll have to plan that carefully - what species and variety of tree to get, where exactly to plant it. It's hard to be patient, but I know our back yard won't be bare and ugly forever.


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