In relative terms, we view trees as lasting forever. It came as quite a shock to learn that this cherry tree may be gone in our remaining lifetime. A friend that is in her ninth decade and who spent as much of her time as possible walking stream side or in the forest, said that this was the largest cherry tree that she had ever seen. Generations of chipmunks fed on its seeds. Orioles nested in the top of this tree. We spent many hours sitting on a stone wall in the shade cast by its leaves.
I first became aware that the tree was in trouble this year. Becky has known for a longer time since she knew that the bright orange fungus that grew on this trunk only grows on dead wood. Many dead branches caught my attention recently. Our first reaction was to find out if anything could be done to save the tree. A local expert expressed his view that once the trunk was covered with this green growth, there was nothing that could be done to save the tree. He said that the tree will simply fall in pieces.
Since we drive or walk under these branches daily, we felt that something needed to be done. The tree does not grow on our land and its owner expressed no interest in paying to fell the giant. We do not want to see the tree gone but we did not want to pass by here in danger of being hit by a falling branch.
A local family of tree cutters removed several large branches that grew over our driveway. One son operated the chainsaw while perched on a ladder. The other son and mom lowered the sections of cut limb safely to the ground by limiting the speed at which the rope moved around an adjacent trunk. Dad directed the placement and angle of every cut. Each piece of tree dropped exactly as he said it would.
All of the equipment used today is visible in this picture. An almost fearless young man on a ladder deftly handling a chain saw while the attached rope controlled the severed branch's rate of fall and Dad's instructions about rope placement and location of cut were the only tools used here today. On more than one occasion the guy high above ground was concerned that his safety might be compromised. Dad knew what he was doing and all left the job uninjured.
After a severe pruning, the cherry tree still stands guard at the corner of the driveway. We don't know if trimming the tree will lengthen it's life or shorten it. In any case the deed is done. Now it is up to what remains the tree.