I am stressed about our sugar maple under duress. Was it sixteen or eighteen years ago we planted it—I’m not so good at record keeping. We’ve watched the tree grow and every autumn its leaves have kept their promise. Sugar maples are experts at that. Every year I’m thinking I’ve never seen a more beautiful tree. I’ll take just one more photo. Growing. Growing.
We know from the beginning how magnificent this tree can get and we hope we chose the right spot and now are beginning to wonder is there room enough. Growing and growing Last spring was the first tap; how sweet taste pancakes poured with your own maple syrup.
But I’ve taken notice how in recent years the sugar maple leaves turn and fall a little sooner, and there has been the brittle and bare branch or two, even in summer. I think: it’s fine, the tree is growing, growing, trees have their own nature. Owen is the first to investigate. He uncovers a girdling root at the base. It functions like any girdle: wrapping and compressing, cutting down on circulation. Other roots have suffered. The root flare is stunted.
Owen shows me where and we chisel through the offending root, hoping to kill it off and please not the tree, please don’t let it be too late, and all the time we are digging and hammering and striking and chiseling out that thick, villainous root, my pulse knocks higher and my breathing hastens, from my effort, but also from my hope and fear. Our sugar maple, our sugar maple.