We've lived in this house for 24 years. I guess I am pretty fortunate to have been able to stay in one home that long. Given the lifestyles of people these days, they move quite often out of necessity or choice. This is only my second home since getting married. We moved here when our two children were 2 years old and 4 months old. This is the childhood home for my children, and the only home where all their memories and experiences of growing up are connected.
After we moved here, we worked on home improvements and did a major redo of the outside landscaping. We added many shrubs, plants and trees over the years. Some did not do well and are gone, but for the most part, many have matured and grown up to be fine specimens. One of the largest plantings is the fine old ash tree we planted in front of our house shortly after moving in.
Nothing stays the same. That tree grew quickly, spreading its dense branches and foliage into a protective canopy. It shaded and cooled our home in the hot summers and provided a cool place to sit for our family and our pets. The canopy grew to be so dense, it even kept rain from falling on our little dogs when they went out to do their business. It had to be a very hard rain before it would penetrate the leaves and fall onto the ground below. Squirrels and birds took advantage of the protective environment to build their nests and raise their young.
Nothing stays the same. As the ash tree grew tall, so did our children! Our front yard and dead end street was "the" place to be for all the neighborhood kids. They rode their bikes, played ball and street hockey and did all the things groups of little friends do. In the fall, piles of leaves were inviting to jump in. Over time, every one of those children grew up to be young adults who have finished school, started jobs and are now finding their way in life. Some have even married.
Nothing stays the same. That ash tree stood tall and majestic though those years until a tiny insect called an Emerald Ash Borer made its appearance. A glossy green insect with beauty that belied its threat, marched across the United States leaving devastation in its wake. They devoured ash trees throughout the country, leaving only skeletal remains of its victims standing in forests and cities. Their attacks were slow and often unseen, with damage happening under the bark. It eventually caused the trees to die a slow death. They choked, starting at the top, and moving to the roots. Scientists labored to find a treatment and eventually discovered one that could stop the carnage. But it was much too late for many of the trees. We have 3 ash trees on our property. The front yard tree the biggest one. When the treatment became available, we immediately started treating our trees. We thought we had successfully weathered the assault on the area trees as ours continued to do well season after season when others around us died. Over time, our 3 trees were part of only a few surviving trees in the area. We breathed a sigh of relief and kept caring for them.
Nothing stays the same. Last spring, we had multiple freezes that killed the tender spring growth on plants. That majestic ash tree leafed out 3 times, determined to survive. We worried, "can the tree handle it?" It did. However, the demand on its resources resulted in a thinner but adequate canopy. We had another summer to enjoy the beauty and shade.
Nothing stays the same. Enter the winter from hell. Terrible cold and snow, the likes we haven't seen in our lifetimes. That winter took a terrible toll on many plants. Come spring, the extent of the damage became clear to many homeowners as many plants died or suffered significant damage from the brutal temperatures. Our ash tree struggled in the spring, and showed signs of problems. There were dead branches and the canopy was sparse and leaves were small. Stressed trees don't handle invaders well, and apparently ash borers took advantage of that weakness and did their dirty work last year and into this spring.
Nothing stays the same. A tree specialist came out to examine "our patient". He thought "maybe" we could help it, but the tree is pretty "sick". It was a difficult thing to hear. Sadly, we've decided to "let go" and we have made the decision to take the tree down. It's just a tree, I know, but it has ties to our lives and is part of our home. We chose it, planted it, fed, pruned and nurtured it. We fought hard to keep it healthy and safe. We briefly won the battle, but ultimately the ash borer and unusual weather circumstances will bring it to its end. It's hard to let go of something that you have cared for so intensely and have enjoyed for so many years.
Nothing stays the same. In coming to terms with this pending loss, I couldn't help but look at the bigger picture. I see so many similarities between our children and our tree. Our children grew tall, like the tree. They are a significant part of our lives and tied to our memories of our home. As our children grew, they expanded their interests and abilities, their experiences and their journeys, much like a tree grows and build its dense canopy of branches and leaves. We worked hard to keep them healthy, to keep them safe, and to keep them strong. We nurtured the good and pruned away the negative. Our children grew to be healthy, strong, and sturdy young people. Our children have matured as our tree has matured. Yet, the time has come to "let go" of our tree and in some ways, it's time to "let go" of our children too. Now that they have reached adulthood, it's time to let them go (from our care) so they can move on to live their own lives. Unlike our tree though, which will be gone for good, our children will continue to be part of our lives. They are just not necessarily going to be in our home and dependent on us for care. They are transplanting themselves in their own yard of life.
Nothing stays the same.