Trees-for Marilyn

I love trees. They have played such an important role in my life, starting at 5 years old when my new Dad bought a tree that was exactly same height as me so I could watch it grow all through my childhood.

I loved that tree…a Star Pine…and as it grew, I played in its shade, building miniature forts out of natural debris. When it quintupled its size, I climbed up in it to check out the view of the ocean over the top of our house or to just read a book where it was quiet. That tree was my secret hiding place during many childhood dramas (and traumas).

I seriously bond with trees. I was lucky enough to have made several trips to the Redwood Forest as a kid, where I met and still remember this one particular tree that I visited several more times in my life. It was not one of the tourist trees…this one was mine.

Not that you can actually own a tree……..

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk (where I am writing this right now) on a perfectly calm, sunny day. No wind, no rain storm, no earthquakes. Nothing. Perfectly peaceful.

I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. Then, came the sound. Sickeningly familiar. I’ve heard it before, but thank god, only a few times in my life…like when the snow load on a tree is just too heavy. Craaack. From my desk I can see my two favorite trees, very mature Ornamental Flowering Plum trees, and I watched helplessly as a huge limb on one of them slowly cracked and slowly split apart. It slowly fell onto the “Baby Bird”. (That’s what we call the 57 T-Bird that lives at our house while her owner is abroad. We are trying to sell her.)


What I can see from the window by my desk (board put there in a desperate attempt to hold the branch off the car)

I jumped up, ran out the back door, down the deck steps, and stopped short in the driveway as it hit me. What the hell was I going to do? Try to stop the several hundred pound limb from falling further???


Can’t see it in this photo but there is another car buried under there, nose to nose with the T-Bird

As I stood there, visually assessing, that awful cracking sound continued…quieter, but in short staccato bursts. I didn’t know if the whole tree was about to collapse or what! I could see that heavy limb was miraculously being held very slightly up off the Thunderbird by all the smaller branches that already reached the ground surrounding the car…like a purple cage of twigs and leaves.

But the continued cracking was a warning. If that branch came the rest of the way down, the Baby Bird might well be crushed.

Now, I panicked.

I’m always complaining (mostly playfully) about having to live with six men, but today, I was wishing for even one of them to be available. This felt like a Guy Emergency! I broke two cardinal rules. I interrupted my son Michael at work and James, at band practice!!

I just texted them each the above photo. They both came. I don’t know what I thought they could do though. Super James is getting older (finally) and younger, muscle-man Michael was hampered by some newly broken ribs. They were not going to be able to lift that limb either.

I also sent out an SOS on our neighborhood group email asking for all available youth and muscle to come to my house ASAP. Several of them came immediately. I love my neighbors!! Still not enough to lift it and besides it was getting really unsafe by now.

The most urgent dilemma was getting the Baby Bird out from under that limb in case it finished giving way. The obvious thing to do was to back the car out from under the potentially crushing tree…impossible to open the driver’s door but the passenger door not impossible. Here’s the thing though. James stores the car with its battery disconnected. There was absolutely NO getting that hood up to reconnect the battery. Below you can see him buried in the tree trying to lift it.


And even if we got it out, how much more of the tree would fall onto the Taurus, the car hidden nose to nose with the T-Bird??


the Taurus

OK, so tow it out of there, right? And hope the huge limb doesn’t scratch the Baby Bird or crush the Taurus when the Baby stops holding up its weight.

Well, towing a 1957 Thunderbird is not easy. Those suckers are heavy!! But James got it out with his 4Runner and miraculously, the smaller branches continued to hold the heavy limb up off the Taurus, gently resting on the ground.


The crisis with the cars was mostly averted, only purple streaks across their hoods and roofs. No scratches deep enough really to even damage the paint jobs. Amazing.

Then a potentially more serious problem showed up…


Look closely at the above photo and you can see a wire pulled down by the limb….uh oh….


I have been after the power company, the cable company and the phone company for years about the placement of their connections to my home, and a few years back the power company did finally come out. Not to change the location of their power pole, but to trim my trees just a bit…to keep their wire safe.

But now, to the left of this whole T-Bird vs Tree argument, there is a wire laying on the ground…and it goes all the way across the street to the main power pole for the whole neighborhood. My street is a long dead-end lane and there is rarely traffic on it except, of course, at this exact time of evening. Everyone is arriving home from work.

We are all standing around, no one 100% confident they know which kind of wire this is.

So I call the power company. I call the cable company. I even call the phone company although our landline is now through the cable. No one comes. They all say they will be there within 45 minutes. NO ONE SHOWS UP!! (Not for 36 hours!!!)

Finally, one knowledgeable (or just brave) neighbor pulls on the wire hard enough to lift up the slack that had lain on the street. Second crisis temporarily averted.

Except for the day and a half of no TV (only hard on the grandsons) and no internet for those adults in our house who work online, we (cars and all) survived the event just fine.

Now, the real trauma….

If you happen to follow the wonderful Marilyn Armstrong at Serendipity ( ), you know that she and her family had a horrific ‘nature tragedy” earlier this year, that terrorized her and nearly destroyed their trees. If you are not suseptable to nightmares, you can read about it here.


What I am about to tell you in no way compares to what they went through but I bring up Marilyn because I think she might understand my recent loss better than most.

Though it is a long and complicated story about why, basically here’s what happened next.


My beautiful trees are killed…



I can’t write any more right now. All I can think of is the countless birds associated with those gorgeous trees. Hummer nests. Blue Jays. Flickers. Woodpeckers. Nuthatches. Chickadees. And whole flocks of beautiful House Finches whose colors matched the tree! It’s where the Crows waited each morning for me to feed them. Sometimes the crows would talk to the hummingbirds there. And even the cute but irritating squirrels would steal the crow food and leap off the corner of the deck into the safety of those plum trees.

Here’s a slideshow in Memoriam…………

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I’m almost glad I don’t have any pictures of them blanketed in their full Spring Pink Glory….just that partial one at the very top…


This is my Therapy Room. If you had come to see me, you might have sat on this brown couch, positioned so you could look out that window…at my beautiful Flowering Plum Trees.

I guess I will be rearranging furniture soon.



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Thought a blog might help me develop better writing habits so I could finally finish my book, 16 years in the writing, but so far it's mostly photos and FUN!

18 thoughts on “Trees-for Marilyn”

  1. I remember, when I lived in New York, our mimosa which we’d grown from a sapling, split in half and died. It didn’t die instantly, but die it did. The tree guy pointed out that trees, like every other living thing, have a lifespan. Some live a very long time, but many of the ornamental trees are not long-lived. We have a lot of catalpa growing on the property and they regularly fall apart. Limbs come crashing down, trees split down the middle. We have learned to take it in stride and keep an eye out for trees that might fall on a power line or the roof. We take them down before they do serious damage. Otherwise, we let the trees grow in peace and hope for the best.

    The gypsy moth invasion was a whole different kind of thing. Gypsy moths aren’t native to North America. They are a European pest and don’t have natural enemies, so they do huge damage. They started here in Massachusetts in 1869 and have spread across the entire continent, south to Mexico and north into Canada, destroying millions of acres of hardwoods (mostly oak and ash) as they go.

    It’s a cautionary tale to NOT introduce non-native species into an ecosystem. It never ends well. Sometimes, it never ends.

    1. Thanks for your response. Good things to think about. And again, I hope it didn’t sound like I was comparing the two events. I had just never lost a tree before and thought with all your stripped Oaks and getting no help from those who might have had the power to do something, you might relate. Sorry about the Mimosa. I just had no idea this could even happen. My first Tree Loves were Redwoods so in my frame of reference, I thought trees lived forever. blissful naivete…

      1. I don’t think anyone expects whatever until it actually happens. My then husband was heartbroken when our tree fell apart. He loved that mimosa. It was his baby … not counting the actual baby, that is. Most of us learn this stuff because … well … it happens to us, bang, whack. I’m not exactly a kid and I’ve certainly HEARD of insect invasions … but experiencing it was a new and very unpleasant experience. I’m hoping it never recurs in this lifetime. Once was enough.

  2. The story of your plum trees is a great metaphor for your clients. The cycle of life. Out of destruction comes rebirth. Don’t rearrange furniture. Let everyone participate in watching the growth of a new growing life. A new tree literally gives people a focal point.

    Trees can grow fast. We used to have huge white flowering Bradford Pear trees on either side of the driveway entrance. One morning, we found one of them had split and blocked the driveway. Paul planted a small Blue Spruce which, after 4-5 years, is quite a handsome tree.

  3. Oh, the horror! If you lose a tree can you replace it with 2? I know, they take time to grow….but maybe you can continue the tree tradition with your grandsons? I have a peach tree in front of my bedroom window. Never get any peaches, but it’s pretty all the same. Spring in Melbourne is just weeks away, so you can expect some photos and a post very soon. Glad the T-Bird was ok. Also, next time call for Firemen! Would have loved to see some photos of them. Cheers,H

    1. now why does that not surprise me, your interest in Fireman!! Great idea, although I do hope there isn’t a “next time”. We (a bunch of women friends and neighbors) honor our local firehouses every year on September 11th with chocolate chip cookies), and frankly I am no longer sure it’s for completely the right reasons.
      We joke about our local being hired for their looks and fitness! hubba hubba.

      1. That’s true. I had carpenter ants this year and had to remove shrubs that were close to the house. That was hard to do too.

  4. Oh, dear, what a story, in pictures and all!!
    One time when my daughter was under ten, she said, “Mom, should that tree be smoking?” She was looking out the window upstairs. A neighbor’s tree was on fire at the top where a wire crossed it. We called 911 who in turn called the electrical company… the tree just had intermittent flames at the top….

      1. The police showed up, looked up at the tree, and called the fire fighters. The fire fighters showed up, looked at the tree and called the electrical company. The electrical company showed up about 4-5 hours after the first 911 call.

      2. Well, they checked the story, true, fire folks said tree is just smoldering so electrical trimmed tree.

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