Feed the trees

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Sometimes, you just have to know when to give in—even when it hurts.

Going on three years ago, when we moved into our house, I did something that people found surprising. I cut down three mature trees. It freaking killed me, but someone 20-30 years ago planted trees as though today would never come. The two in the back were cottonwoods. I didn’t feel so bad taking them out because they’d been inconsistently cared for, and it would have taken as long to get them back into shape as to plant some more ornamental and appropriate trees. But the tree in the front was a gorgeous red cedar. Again, some fool planted it. It was 10 feet from the house and directly over the sewer line, which it had grown into. Someday, somebody’s going to have to deal with that damage. Anyway, the tree would have a 40-foot span when it was grown. Idiots. I’d just like to slap whomever it was who put it there.

But that was three years ago, and I’d almost recovered. Now, Wednesday last, I get an emergency call at work. The ash tree is blowing over. I frankly didn’t believe it, the wind just wasn’t that strong. When I get home, it’s sure enough true. We call the arborist and guess what? Our beautiful ash tree had to come out. I made the call: Cut it down. Apparently, it was planted too shallowly (in the imported topsoil above the hardpan), and with us actually fertilizing and watering it, its profile had grown big enough that the wind was going to drop the dang thing on my house.

I don’t know. I see it as a metaphor for a lot of stuff going on around the country. If you don’t quite get it, here it is: Something can look very healthy, growing even, but if its roots are too shallow, the first inclement weather is going to take it down. If you don’t plan for the future, when you look up, there’s not going to be anything there but a hole in your heart.