I met a neighbor today. Phil has started removing an enormous big leaf maple tree from the front yard of his home. The center has rotted, and it is time to cut it down, mainly for safety reasons. As Phil said, there is a hole in the center of the trunk big enough to fit a person.
Many large limbs have rotted, too:
The house next to the tree is 120 years old, and it is thought that the tree is at least that old. It is also believed that the tree was damaged during the Columbus Day Storm of 1962. Phil sounded sad to see the tree go, but knows it is time.
Neighbors frequently stop by to look at the limbs on the ground and the half-tree that is still standing. I have seen groups of four or five people gathered to chat about the tree, and probably about other things, too.
While I was there, Paul walked over from across the street, saw in hand, to help Phil cut up the fallen branches:
Phil said that he lived in a different Southwest Portland neighborhood for a while, and one thing he enjoyed there was the neighbors’ strong sense of community. They got together to share tools, skills, and to volunteer at the Oregon Food Bank. He said that he has not experienced quite the same thing here in Hillsdale, but hopes that will change. It seems that in its final days, the tree is helping with this.
This week a crew came and took down the tree. Phil is cutting the wood into smaller pieces so it can be hauled away, used for firewood, wood carving, etc.
It is a big project:
There was a considerable amount of decay inside the tree:
Phil noted that the dark lines in the wood are called spalting, and that this type of wood is often used by artists. The cross sections look like maps of another world.
Barbara and Angel checked in to see how things were going.
Phil said that losing this tree has been like losing a member of the family. He then pointed out the other big leaf maples in the neighborhood that are probably descendants of this tree, according to the arborist. Because so many people stop by to inquire, Phil and Laurel put up a sign to tell their story: