Monday, October 06, 2008

But Maybe Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back

Proving that I once was even more horrendously melodramatic and wordy, I will now post as near a replica as my blog allows of something that was originally posted on my website in 1998. Yes, ten years ago. A decade. No, I can't believe it either. It involves something that took place a year earlier, and has tiny pictures with Comics Sans MS captions that scream "This was my first web page!"

I did not edit any of what follows, so the abuse of the word ironic and grammar in general remains as it was back then. I'd only be pissed at myself if I caught myself correcting things, anyway, as I was apparently quite obnoxious.

But it happened, and if you're very good and scroll all the way to the bottom, maybe there's an update that doesn't involve obscure Sailor Moon R references.

The Tale of Ms. Mulberry

Ralph, Michael and Louie from Arbor Tree Service arrived at 9:45am on October 4th, 1997. (Hitchhiker's day! How ironic...) and by 6:10 on 10/6 it was all over.

The 60-ish year old Female Red Mulberry tree that stood in the yard as long as I've been here is gone.
Her roots are still here, however, so you never know, maybe she'll decide to grow again. She's done it before.

Mum and Princess Tukiyak 1982When we moved here in October of 1981, the beautiful Mulberry tree that grew in the middle of the yard had two leaders, a straight-ish piece that grew on the right side, and a slanted half to the left. In the middle was a stump from where a third limb must have been cut.
We enjoyed sitting Bibi the cat (a.k.a. Tookie) up on the flat stump for pictures, never really noticing that the back had an indentation from the stump down to the ground.
Every Winter I would marvel at how the snow would catch on the bark of the trees, forming little snow-leaves at the ends of the branches until the wind would blow them away.
After a few years, the stump started to lose it's outer bark, and so did the indentation in the back. I would sit out on my swing some nights transfixed by the slugs that would make their way around the base of the tree.
I was about ten, so that would fascinate me, you know. I was easily entertained, and still am, apparently.

In April of 1987, my old T-Gym (are all of those as awful as mine was?) sat under the Mulberry and Cherry trees. This one day in particular I was in the yard, on my swing, listening to my radio (with headphones. I'm courteous, if a bit deaf now), and noticed that a tree on Morgan, the block behind us, was being what I'd later find out was called "topped". Looked awful, anyway. Seemed a shame for such a nice tree. Eric Clapton's "It's In The Way That You Use It" was on at one point, I clearly remember.
Once, my grandfather, Savio, Poppy, or Pa, as I usually called him, was sitting in the yard and he noticed that he could see sunlight through the base of the tree, in the middle, where the stump was.
On closer inspection, and it didn't really have to be that close, we saw that the tree was splitting down the middle, and that the left side that was off-kilter already, was in danger of falling on our shed (which thinking back wouldn't have been so bad) and the swing that my Mum had just built a year before.
Not only that, but it could have easily flattened anyone that had the dumb luck to be standing near it if and when it decided to go.
So Mum called Arbor Tree Service. They came on July 14th to cut the left side of the Mulberry tree (they told us it was a Mulberry, up until then we didn't know) and prune the Cherry tree next to it a bit.
I wore this black summer thing that anyone that knows me well knows, in mourning for the half of the tree that was to be cut off.
I watched the entire thing from my window, with Simon the cat and Bobby the dog next to me, very anxious about the men that were in their yard, climbing their tree.
When it was done, I went out to look at the new stump. It had that smell that lumber departments have, I kinda liked it...
I noticed these little bugs walking all over the stump, and not knowing then what I do now, didn't recognize them as carpenter ants.
Two years later, the tree sprouted new growth where it had been cut.
I claimed the "new half", pruning it and making it look quite spiffy. Not an easy thing to do with a bowsaw--Red Mulberry happens to be one of the hardest woods, you know.
This Spring, June 2nd, 1997, to be exact (the chronologer strikes again!) After recovering from my hibernation, I took to the yard with my Garden Claw and pruners to see what needed to be done.
The back of the Mulberry tree was entirely split, and now you could see sunlight through the whole thing. There were mushroom-ish things growing on the base, and there were discolored patches on the bark here and there.
Panicing, as I do so well, we called four or five tree services (you'd be amazed how many tree services are based in City Island) and the overall conclusion was that Ms. Mulberry wouldn't last another year.

After an interesting few months of trying to track down the man who was supposed to do the job, we decided to call Arbor again. We knew them, we liked them, and at least we knew that they were capable of handling chainsaws.

Each time the day of doom would near, I'd go out in the yard, apologize to "Mully" and ask it to grow back and see us some time.
After ten times, I figured we were all ready for it. For some reason the Ben Folds Five song "Stephen's Last Night In Town" summed it all up for me. That and "Tubthumping" from Chumbawumba, but that's another story.
Frankie Squirrel

Ralph, Michael and Louie from Arbor Tree Service arrived at 9:45am on October 4th, 1997.

It took two days of work, Saturday and Monday, to do it.

"My half" of the tree, the new growth from '89, went first.
Three cuts and it was down.
As they worked on the tree, one man climbing and cutting, the other two hauling the cuttings out to the chipper and their truck, my radio, which is now tuned to WFUV for all eternity, began playing, of all things...bagpipes...
They later played Loreena McKenitt's new song about tree worshipping, "The Mummer's Dance".

I watched the entire thing from my window, with Simon the cat and Holly the dog next to me now, Holly very anxious about the men that were in the yard, climbing Frankie Squirrel's tree.
Simon had seen it before; he stretched out on his pillow that I keep on my stereo for him.

I wore this black summer thing that anyone that knows me well knows (I've been wearing it for years now), in mourning for the rest of the tree. When it got colder I put on my black Steinwurtzel shirt. What ever happened to Steinwurtzel? What ever happened to the pants that went with the shirt...?

So the man cut the tree, an amazing thing to see, really. I have the entire thing on tape. If I could put an animated character in the corner singing tuneless songs I could sell it as a kids guide to the logging industry, maybe.

Ocassionally people on Morgan would walk by and watch the tree being cut down. I'm sure a lot of lot of them thought that it was a shame to cut down such a pretty tree. It was.
As the sawdust from above fell, it caught in the bark of the tree, just as the snow did every Winter. The gorgeous shiny green leaves fell, attached to bits of perfect, if slightly petrified bark.
Watching it, I wondered when the rot would kick in.
The fall of MullyThe fall of Mully
The fall of Mully
Four feet from the ground, the bark began to disintegrate and they actually had to use an axe at one point to split the piece that was cut from both sides towards the middle.
It's strange that something could be so rotted on one side and healthy on the other. Or rather, completely rotted with bits of health here and there.

The first night the bulk of the tree was down -- Saturday -- Simon and Holly were enthralled by the fact that they could now sit on the parts of the tree that used to be at least 30 feet in the air.
I looked up and saw constellations I had never seen. The clouds at sunset were amazing enough, but to see the Swan? Wow.
As I sat on the swing that my Mum made for me in 1988, listening to my headphone radio, watching to make sure Simon and Holly didn't squash themselves under a log, marvelling at the new constellations, and the lack of slugs, Eric Clapton came on the radio.

Ralph said, when it was all done on Monday, that we had done the right thing and that even he couldn't have guessed how bad it really was.
Almost a month later, what remained of the stump has dissolved into mulch, abandoned by the carpenter ants for the softer, sweeter wood of our Cherry Tree, I'm sure.
We brought some of the Euonymous hedges back (they used to be in the back, then we moved them to the front, now they've come home!) and placed a bench in front of it to keep ourselves from breaking something by tripping on it.

I'm still waiting to see if anything survives, to sprout a new growth that I can sit Simon in for photo ops.
Of course, being the Sailor Moon freak that I am, I would. :)

Now playing on my radio: The Mummer's Dance

Ah, Miss Mulberry, ye were a fine tree. A good tree. A strong tree.

And anyone out there that needs tree service and lives nearby, call Arbor Tree Service. They rule.
Update - March 1998

Update: March 1998 -- Who'd have thunk Loreena McKennit would get so popular? :)

Update - April 1998

I interrupt my already long story to cut to the happy ending:

The other day, after all the rain we had (which was before all the rain we're getting now), I was, well... I admit it. Picking up Holly's poopy. I happened to be near Mully's stump.

There were little buds on this twig like thing, sticking out of the front.

I hadn't made it official until now because I wanted to see what it was, it might have just been something the ants had grafted into the tree, you never know with them, amazing gardeners, they are.

Ms. Mulberry has returned.

If this was a Sailor Moon episode, I'd be floating off right now with my blue and pink haired friends to make a new start, I'm so happy.

Instead, I'm waiting to get a really good picture... and guarding that twig.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy, Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy.... :)

Update - May 19, 2000

During a rather nasty storm, the bit that was growing out of the stump blew over. It was incredibly depressing but I kept a wand-length branch to er...hide on my desk so Mum doesn't think bugs will kill us in our sleep.

Update - August 2004

In 2003, when my Ninjas were wee lads, I was out mowing when I spotted familiar leaves. It was maybe not entirely unbelievable. A separate tree, with its own roots, that would be able to grow...well, wherever I moved it to because it was growing too close to the house.

Summer Hotties

If you click the picture to check out the full size, in the upper-left corner, you see the young twig my mother kept asking me about. "No, it's not a tree," I assured her...that worked for a while.
Update - October 2008

Nearly twenty years since the original mulberry tree was cut in half, and eleven years after the rest was cut down, "Junior" has grown to about ten feet, and I've been keeping it pruned. Mulberries, I've discovered through the other five that have cropped up in the lawn, are easy to dwarf. But this one, this one that appeared the year we brought the Ninja Twins home, this one I let reach the sky.

All there really is to add to this, aside from HOLY HELL, I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU READ THIS WHOLE THING, is that on YouTube I found the explanation for all the Sailor Moon tree references. It's been too long since I got to see Sailor Moon, but that's another tale, for another time.


The point, I think, is never to give up because there may be another chance.

That and I LOVE TREES!


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