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Planning doesn’t always work

May 25, 2017

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In 1989 we got land on Lake Wisconsin.  We built a home on it in 1990.  When we bought the land, the top half was a field where cows grazed while the bottom half was covered with trees. There came a drought in the 90’s and all the cedar trees died on the hill side.  We still had some big tall trees – Poplar, Mulberry and Elm.  We had lots of stumps on the hill side from the dead Cedar trees.  Poison ivy filled the spaces between the stumps so when my husband mowed in the morning and I would walk down to the lake in the afternoon, I’d wind up with poison ivy all over me as the “stuff” hung in the air.  We got someone to dig all the stumps out, planted grass and that was the end of the poison ivy.

The first big old tree to go was the Elm with Dutch Elm disease.  It was the one that held the tire swing.  The next one that went was a Poplar tree as it was mostly dead inside and if and when it fell, it would “get” the house.  The next one was a Mulberry.  We looked at it one day deciding when to take it down and the next day it fell just missing our neighbors house.

We had started planting a tree here and there on the property knowing that the tall trees were older.  Some of these new starts lived and some didn’t.  Then one day we came late at night after dark.  We opened the sliding door onto the deck and were met with one of our mulberry trees.  Mulberry trees grow with multiple trunks.  We didn’t live up here full time and didn’t notice that 2 of the 5 trunks were dead.  These 2 dead ones were downhill and somehow the 3 uphill ones helped the tree fall slowly onto the deck.  During the night the tree just it slipped off never having done damage to the deck.  We have several piles of split wood from the various trees that have come down.

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Fast forward to this spring.  My husband David, had cleared up under the existing mulberry tree and our red buds.  The lilies and tulips were wonderful this year.  We were heading to Missouri and I thought I would get some great photos when we got back.  We knew this tree was getting older but again we were thinking that we would still have a few years with it.  The yard looked great!  Then came a series of storms on May 17, 2017.  All of a sudden the windows outside our deck were being pelted.  My husband took down the big metal bird feeder from the Shephard’s crook it was on was bent into the deck and we were afraid it would blow into the sliding glass door.  We took shelter in the basement.

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There was a crack and a thud.  We went out the basement sliding door and our 40 foot mulberry was on the ground.  For some a mulberry tree is a “dirty” tree as the mulberries can leave a mess.  It is a mess that the birds love.  The birds love to feed on it and love to live in it and be sheltered by it.  As it has laid on the ground the birds still have enjoyed the branches.

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Today we have assessed some of the damage.  Luckily, the tree didn’t fall on our deck or propane tank.  The top of the tree next to it is also gone and we may have to cut that tree down as well.  One of the Red Bud’s is safe but we can’t see the other one so we don’t know what else we lost underneath.  Forget the lilies and tulips until next year.  It is raining as I write so we will need to wait to see how and when to cut it down and cut the other one apart.

We have always made plans.  We will now have to make new ones.  It takes a long time to grow 40 foot trees.  When we first came and built, we could hardly see the lake from the house.  The large old elm being taken down had the loss of the tire swing but opened up some of the view.  The cedars didn’t obstruct the view as much as hold the soil well on the hill.  The grass we planted now does that job.  The Mulberries are gone.  One by one the lake is easier to see and there are fewer places for the birds to rest.  We have a much larger, clearer view of the lake but it is with sad heart that we know what is missing from the picture.

I tried to find some photos of the tree but didn’t.  You can see all the branches in the background in the photos of the bird feeders.  The first photo is that of a bird sheltering in the winter storms in its branches.  Somehow I missed a photo opportunity of whole tree.   I guess I just took the tree for granted that the tree would always be there.

There are many storms in our lives in many ways.  Some are bigger than others.  Some cause more damage than others.  This storm was a physical one but it has also tugged at our hearts and emotions.  We take things for granted until they are gone.  Somehow we need to take stock of what is there as we are mindful of each day.  We will still make plans.  We will speed up our planting of trees.  Storms will always wreak havoc.  I for one, will again be mindful of all the things: this day, this scene, this place and be mindful of all the people in my life as well.

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Post Script.  Our son came up and helped my husband.  With small and large chain saws and with a swing of an ax or two, the tree was dispatched into several piles.  The ground is too wet to get the trailer down to get the limbs carted off to the too wet forest area.

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The ground is too wet for the wood chipper to be brought down to finish the larger logs to smaller pieces for the fireplace.  You can see the grass again.  You can see both red bud’s again.

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Tomorrow is another day.  Tomorrow is the time to plant another tree or two.  I can think of the song from Annie “The Sun will come out tomorrow”.  It may but the rain has continued mostly for the last few days.  We await the sun’s warmth and growth and while we are waiting we will plan and plant.

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