A necessary evil, of loss–or–my broken heart

“Herein lies the supreme wisdom, human and divine; and the task of philosophy consists in teaching men to submit joyously to Necessity which hears nothing and is indifferent to all.”
Lev Shestov

“Doctoring her seemed to her as absurd as putting together the pieces of a broken vase. Her heart was broken. Why would they try to cure her with pills and powders?”

Leo Tolstoy

It has been said that trees are imperfect men, and seem to bemoan their imprisonment rooted in the ground. But they never seem so to me. I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!
John Muir, July 1890

(our son in 1999 standing beside the posted construction permit allowing us to begin construction on our home, with one of the oaks situated behind him)

In the grand scheme of life, on Life’s Richter scale, this crisis of mine is not up there with the usual calamities which are catastrophic to life and limb.
Yet to my heart, well, it feels as if someone has reached into my chest and just pulled it on out.

I’ve made mention in the past about the two oak trees out in front of our house. The two trees which were actually situated in a perfect setting for the construction of the house as we would be able to showcase the trees just as the trees showcased our house. Our house was nestled perfectly in-between and under their growing arms. These two trees are what offset our house and made it what it is in the vast realm of my concept of landscaping.


Maybe it’s because I grew up in a city during the height of post war urban sprawl.
Maybe it’s because all we had were a couple of tall toothpick like pines dotting our yard.
Maybe it’s because I always wanted a tree house but as I just stated— all we had were tall toothpick pines— not suitable for the building of a fort or treehouse.
Maybe it’s because somehow God anointed my heart to have a deep seeded love of and for trees, woods, forests. . .

As we’ve now been in our house going on 14 years, that little oak in the first picture with our son has since grown into a mighty majestic oak. This tree sported 4 bird feeders and 4 wooden bird houses–until today. Planted at its base were azaleas and day lilies. I had several adirondack chairs sitting beneath the tree’s gracious canopy of shade as this was a favorite place for me to sit seeking relief from a relentless summer’s sun when I was out doing yard work or merely seeking solitude enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon reading.
Perhaps it was my grownup version of a perfect location for a “tree” house / fort.

A few years ago a tornado tore through our county, coming very close to our home. The winds were frightening as we sought shelter in our basement. Once the storm passed, we gave thanks to see that our home and yard had been spared. The only thing askew was one of the two oaks–the one at the far end of the house. It was obvious that the tree was “pushed” but not toppled by the destructive winds.

Also a few years ago, we began noticing an odd phenomenon with both oaks. Just as soon as April arrived each Spring, and the trees began sporting their new Springtime wardrobe of tender brightly colored green leaves, the leaves would begin falling. The leaves would turn a brownish yellowish greenish with brown spots. The leaves would proceed to drop falling off until Winter, leaving our yard looking as if we were stuck in some sort of perpetual Autumn-time mode. Which in turn keeps my husband nonplused by the constant barrage of dead leaves all over the lawn, the front walk, the shrubbery, etc, of which keeps our yard carpeted with dead leaves from April until the following April. . . when it begins all over again.

As our county does not currently have an Aborist, one to call upon when there are tree issues, I did my best to figure out what was afflicting our trees. Then on top of disease, both trees had now grown exponentially in size threatening both corners of the house should we be dealt a bad hand by Mother Nature.

I deduced both trees were suffering from Oak Blight or also known as Oak Wilt. Trees can live for several years until the disease run its course, killing the tree.
There is no cure.
In addition to the blight, the one tree that had taken the lick in the Tornado, over the past two years, has developed shelf fungus—which indicates that the heart of the tree is dying if not already dead.


Here is an image of the house a couple of Summers ago when the trees were still healthy and full.


There is a tremendous difference in the fullness and health of the tree as noted in this photo from last month.

(the leaves have all fallen off the lower half of the tree well before Fall)

My heart was / is also dying alongside my trees.

I know some of you reading this do not understand my sorrow over the loss of two trees that sound as if it was just a matter of time before they would go anyway. I know those of you who have had trees to cause devastation in your lives and to your homes are telling me “good riddance”—-
yet something in my heart is now so very sad and empty.

Maybe the trees offered me a false sense of protection and safety as I ( and my home) was situated behind their massive bodies diverting and separating the barrage of the endless traffic up on the road from my little world.
Maybe I now feel exposed–no longer hidden and embraced.
Maybe I thought that they were like those majestic oaks of old, offsetting my piece of the deep South in grand splendor.
Maybe it’s because the trees offer(ed) me such an intimate view, allowing me to quietly and secretly observe the birds and squirrels who call my yard home.
Maybe it’s because I could mark the milestones and developments of our little family’s lives by these trees. . .like the time they were the back drop to a Prom dinner hosted here for our son’s junior year.. .or as in the very first picture to this post, it marked the new beginnings to a new home. . .

Maybe it’s because in some weird way I feel these trees, any trees, are inextricably connected to God and to all of His creation–in turn offering me a tangible link to Him as my Creator.

Sadly when Jose (of Rodriquez Tree Service) called last night, letting me know that he was coming this morning with his crew, I felt a sudden sickening sense of loss that I immediately realized was happening whether I liked it or not and that there was not one damn thing I could do to stop it. Helpless and sad all rolled into one.
Yes, all over a tree–well, actually two.

I confess I was (am) mad at my husband.
This due to his infinite wisdom of putting his foot down with his “enough is enough”—that the time to cut the trees is now. . .fussing that it must be done before they dislodge the front walk with their ever spreading roots, before they turn the entire house black and green from the mildew along with their continued damaging of gutters and roof— all from living in the dampness of their shade and sloughing off of their debris. . . “And remember Julie, the trees are sick, how much longer will they be able to stand before they die and fall on the house?!”

And yes, he is right.
. . . but that doesn’t mean I have to like it or even agree with him as living in the denial of the inevitable has seemed a much better option. But as my husband, I know he wouldn’t do something to hurt my heart, as much as this current crisis seems to be, unless he saw no other alternative or option. . . and as my husband, I know I must trust him. I live in that very old fashioned world (as so deemed by society) that as a married couple in the sight of God—God has set the standard that my husband is indeed head of this household and I, in turn, trust that my husband does what he believes to be just and right as he tries to listen to God—-whether or not he hears God as clearly as I think he should is an entirely different matter for an entirely different post, but as usual, I digress.






I did however have one small thought. . .
I asked Jose to cut me some rounds from the trees that I would dry, eventually turning them into cutting boards, chargers and even a small little table or two. That is if they don’t crack all to pieces while drying out, which is more than likely to happen with my luck.
I even contacted Michael, our very own blogging wood craftsman over on http://michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com
seeking his advice as how best to preserve a small memento from my trees.

Despite this latest crisis of mine, in my small corner of this world–the one thing I’ve always clung to in life, especially when things look most dire, dismal and gloomy, is. . . Hope. . .

DSCN8087 2

You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor.
Job 11:18-19

16 comments on “A necessary evil, of loss–or–my broken heart

  1. David says:

    Sad to hear about the trees Julie.

    We only have a small garden but there is an apple tree – the one survivor from the orchard that once occupied the area where homes were planted instead back in the later 80s. It is a nuisance at times as one year we will get practically no fruit, while the next will see us inundated. But that tree provides shade on the rare days that it does get too warm outside, and it is very much part of our home. I can’t imagine the tree not being there, even if it seems very close to the house at times.

    Blessings, David

    Hope you are no longer mad with your husband!

    • Hi David–I’m not mad–someone has to make those hard decisions and my heart is simply too soft.
      He says he wants to get someone out here to talk about “restructuring” the front, cutting it down lever closest to the house and building up a rock wall as well as planting a couple of different types of trees that don’t grow nearly as large and won’t be that close to the house—not mad, just sad. I’ve about decided if I don’t ever go out side again, or look out the front windows, I’ll be ok 🙂
      hugs across the pond—

      • David says:

        Glad to hear it is sad rather than mad Julie! I do worry about our apple tree at times and once had a dream that it came down in a storm and damaged the roof of our extension, so I understand your husband’s concerns.

        Here we are happy today as Beth is on the way home for a couple of days. Then on Saturday we will be attending the Youth for Christ commissioning service when all their 2014/2015 volunteers are formally commissioned.

        As far as the weather goes the weather forecaster joyfully pointed out that the rain and wind would be getting warmer this week as the airflow pushes up from the Azores. I guess that warm rain is an improvement on cold rain, but it has been a bit dark and miserable recently and we have had to fire up the heating a couple of times.

  2. Lynda says:

    Julie, your home is beautiful even without the trees but I do understand. I live in a development that is only 14 years old and the tree in front of my house was bending over due to the weight of the ice during the ice storm here last December. I decided to go outside one morning and try to help the tree to stand up after removing some of the ice. As I opened my front door I gasped because the city had already come around and cut down my tree – actually their tree as it was on city property in front of my house. It is no small thing to lose a tree! But I know that you will be involved in the reconstruction and will enjoy bringing new life to your front yard. Blessings.

    • Thanks Lynda–I would have fallen out right there in the doorway had I opened the door to find “my” tree cut down—ugh—and I know it’s a rather petty thing I suppose for me to be so emotionally spent over the loss of two tress—but I think that given the world as it is with so much spiraling out of control, finding that the confines of my “refuge” is also so far beyond my control is the hard part—yet once again there is a deep and very good lesson to be had from the Creator of both the tree and me 🙂
      God knows of my sorrow over the loss of the trees, yet I am struck on an almost daily basis of loss throughout not only my small corner of the world, but of the world community as a whole—learning to trust and letting go of things that we cannot control is never easy, but essential as I, we, work towards letting go and letting God!
      We have torrential rains today and wind—but hopefully a drop in temps!
      Hugs northward—Julie

  3. ptero9 says:

    Hi Julie,
    Sorry for your loss. I love trees too and can get attached to their abiding presence.

  4. Julie, I feel your loss and understand but the trees may have not lived but a few more years. Now you have to go pick out new trees to plant, maybe a little further away from the house. Have a nursery plant you a good size caliber trees!
    You have a beautiful home even without the trees! I had a 12 inch plus size Hickory tree down this morning across our drive was so we could not get the car out until I cut it. I hate losing trees! Big Hugs 🙂 Michael

    • thank you Michael—I know hickory is a hard wood, but can you do anything with your “gift” from this morning?
      Having built in a pasture as we did, there are few trees actually on the property, more along the periphery so that is impart why I hate losing any of the few we have—but you are right, they would not have lived much longer, especially the one whose “heart” had already turned black and was oozing —-time to think ahead to this sudden blank canvas I have been oddly afforded 🙂
      Hugs Michael–

  5. Oh, Julile, I’m so very sorry that you had to lose your trees!!! It is terribly, terribly sad to lose a big tree like that. They almost become like a part of the family after awhile. We had a huge oak in front of our house when we bought it and it eventually started to die not unlike yours and it finally had to be taken down. It was so, so sad and the yard looked so bare afterwards.
    But the man that took it down came back later in the week and planted us another one in the front yard. At the time it was only about 10 feet tall when he planted it in 2007. Now only 7 years later it is towering high in the air and is beautiful. The one we lost was at least 50 years old and mammoth and I may not live to see this one get that big. But it is lovely now and will be be more lovely when it is all said and done. Now we are working on saving the oak in the back yard. It’s also at least 50 years old and for now is holding its own, thank goodness. Both my tree guy (an ex-student of mine) and I don’t really want to loose the thing. And by the way, I want your house. I love it especially that porch than runs all along the front of it.
    My advice is that you buy two new trees and get them planted as soon as you can. You will enjoy watching them grow and soon you will have two new pretty big trees. Hugs, N 🙂 ❤

    • Thanks Natalie—yep, it’s pretty bad but my minimalist husband is like “on it’s so much better, it really opens up things, we’ll get the yard really fixed now. . .”
      I’ll see how far that goes—I just feel totally exposed now and naked to any and all passing cars…not to mention the grueling sun—I’ll definitely have to shift things which sit on the front porch in the summer.
      See, if you were near, we’d have lemonade sitting on the front porch, listening to the bulls across the street 🙂
      I just hate I look out the front and no longer see my birds…It’ll take time getting use to looking at the nothingness. I hope he will go through with getting someone out here to do what he wants—cutting the yard in front of the house down level. building up a stone wall separating the leveled yard with the pasture, planting sod and some smaller trees not so close to the house—otherwise I may go buy something in a pot to put out there just to help my feelings!!!!!
      Thank you for your kind words and prayers—

  6. prior says:

    well this post will serve as a nice tribute to the trees – and all the photos do too
    – and this reminded me about the time when in downtown richmond the new builders accidentally cleared out all the trees (I think they were building the Redskins training camp) and well, all these old trees were accidentally cut down and people were livid – and sad and mad. But then one lady came on and talked about the fresh new trees that were going in to replace those – and how they would now be there for generations and also noted that the trees taken down were nearing the end of their life cycle – and so in a way – the accident had the perk of offering foliage and beauty for more generations to come – I thought it was a nice way of looking at it.

    Anyhow, blog hug your way as you move forward – and not sure where you live – but we love crepe myrtles because they do not get too big and they are beautiful.


    • It’s just going to take a while to get use to the “empty” space. My focal point to the house is certainly disrupted but my husband wants to try and fix up the front, cutting down and leveling out, adding some sod and stone wall of sorts and a couple of smaller trees.
      We are in Georgia, about an hour west of Atlanta—I have 5 crepe myrtles on the bank but will put something back that won’t get as tall and won’t be as close to the house—
      Thank you for the concern and suggestions—they may just be trees but it’s definitely changed my little piece of life—but it is time to look forward to now what may be 🙂
      hugs back to Richmond—Julie

  7. Jenna Dee says:

    I fully understand and feel your pain Julie. It is so sad to see your house without the presence of the majestic oak trees. My thoughts are with you. Love Jenna

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