A Lesson in Forest Management


There was a bit of sadness at the estate today—two trees had to be taken down. A mulberry and a red maple. Both of them were already mature trees when we moved here 28 years ago. I loved them both.

The shy mulberry stayed mostly hidden and out of the way in our side-yard wilds, but it was a double-trunk tree, and one of the trunks was split into two sections, both leaning badly, one capable of striking the house if it fell. Some years ago I’d cut off several of the encroaching limbs, but the tree had grown too big and well above my chain-sawing and climbing paygrade. The mulberry had richly dark bark and a bright, heart-shaped leaf. It cast shadows in the summer.

The red maple was special. Tall and proudly straight, for many years its broad canopy gifted us brilliant autumn colors and plenty of raking to do. From one sturdy limb hung our romantic two-person swing. I suspended one of my odd window mobiles from another branch (Every Window is a World). Its trunk anchored the north end of our hammock. This tree was a true member of the family. But the red maple grew old and diseased, it lost many branches and its time had come.

I’ll miss the mulberry and the red maple. But with help from Owen, we’ve already repopulated our preserve. We’ve planted a quaking aspen, a tulip poplar, a dawn redwood, a Japanese maple, two katsura trees, two hazelnut trees, two Norwegian spruces, and two river birches. These young trees will mature for a future generation. There’s an anonymous Greek proverb that goes like this: Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.

A mature tree will absorb about 48 pounds of CO2 per year. I know that’s not a lot, but it’s comforting knowing the trees around your home are your allies. Me and my buddies are also getting a nice haul of firewood to warm our hearths. An arborist once said to me, “You’ve got your own forest growing here. A small one, but a forest.”

I’ll never forget him saying that. Adieu, my proud red maple, my shy mulberry.

By David Klein

David Klein

Published novelist, creative writer, journalist, avid reader, discriminating screen watcher.


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