I sit here typing, watching my trees come down. It makes me sad. I love trees. I’ve never, ever wanted to cut any down. In my small town, when I was little, I had a huge front yard with wonderful, big trees. Sometimes the Easter bunny would leave colored eggs in hollows in the trees. I loved pulling off the paper bark from two of the birches Dad planted. I always got in trouble when I did that. I still dream of those two huge trees way in front by the sidewalk. And the big tree in the backyard shaded our big house just fine. It had a wonderful limb for hanging a tire swing. And there was, of course, the tree in the far back where my brother, Wally, made me the great tree house with the rope ladder for access. There was a tree back behind the post office that had a bar hooked between it. I always wanted to have a little circus there and be a trapeze artist.
Moving to Ottumwa, I lived on Maple Street in an upstairs apartment. In the yard was a beautiful willow tree. After Bernie and I married and moved to Kirkville, he asked to take a start of the willow. He planted it in our huge yard in Kirkville where he had a tree nursery. The tree thrived. A few years later, when taking care of all that space became too difficult, we moved to Ottumwa, and he again brought a start of the willow and planted it in our backyard. It grew just fine. Our daughter was born, and that tree was to be her wedding tree someday — to be married in its leafy shade. Unfortunately, storms were the undoing of the willow, and Bernie had to take it down. Last year, she and Scott did get married in the backyard, but under a tent to keep out the rain.
One year, her dad built her a tree house in the hoppa crab. I have great photos of Bernie sitting in a lawn chair in the tree house with Katy watching. He made her a big sign, “Katy’s Place.”
We were saddened when a big storm came a few years later and flattened the crab tree, and her little house was gone.
When she started kindergarten, he planted her an oak tree in the backyard. It’s now extremely tall, but many of the lower branches are dead and are being removed. But the tree will stay.
My husband, the tree man, planted evergreen and apple trees here but must have thought back then he wouldn’t be around to see them gain full maturity. The apple trees never amounted to anything. Some of the evergreens in front died and today are gone. I don’t think the beautiful blue spruce he planted had much of a chance after a neighbor kid pulled out the leader. The honey locust hopefully will have more of a chance now that the drooping lower limbs are gone, and it will get more sunshine with the other trees gone.
The lilacs he planted alongside the neighbor’s fence were beautiful for a few years, but the last couple of blooming seasons have been lacking blossoms. They, too, are going down along with the mulberry bush that decided to grow there.
Maybe I can plant deer-resistant perennials in the sunnier back yard I now have.
In front, I’ll have Scott plant me a couple of trees this fall. And, like my husband, I won’t worry about how large they will be in 30 years.
Judy Krieger is a retired Courier editor.