The Giving Tree


Since we humans have pulled our lumbering and flipper-legged mass out of the primordial ooze we have been hard-wired to fear the darkness. The setting sun would have us scurrying under rock, climbing into canopy or slithering into backs of caves. Huddled and shaking we clung to each other waiting for the warmth and relative safety of the morning light. For in the darkness lies danger. Danger known and danger barely perceived. For it was a night such as this that brings me to your internet doorsteps today.

In the darkness outside of my (slightly more modern) cave a great terror arose from over the Pacific Ocean. The great storm. Dark and terrible it rained down it’s icy droplets and howled through my village (of San Diego) with apparently powerful winds. All of which I slept through without stirring a titch. I didn’t even wake up when my beloved coastal coral tree was split in three and came crashing down on my roof, my fence, and the street respectively.

All my regular readers will know that this tree was my absolute favorite tree of all. I have written about it so often. The way I propagated it from a measly branch cutting, how it magically grew faster and bigger than any other plant I’ve ever planted, and how I prune it so thoughtfully and thoroughly.

The last link there being one I should have revisited last winter. The winter I decided to not do my annual pruning because I was “too busy” to tend to it. Too busy to remove the great mass of branches and leaves that is likely the very reason why she couldn’t withstand the night terror of a storm that did her in. Mostly.

Friday morning found me doing the normal routine. Butt scratching, a shower, bask my glorious facial hair in the sun of a hundred gods, and then walk the dog. I left the house and began the walk when I realized there was a giant mass blocking our path. In my morning haze, it took a few ticks before I realized what had occurred. This was what I walked right into…

My precious and beloved tree!! Split into thirds and strewn about my house, my fence, and the spilling into the sidewalk/street! My heart sank as deep as those ancient ancestors of ours were slinking into darkened caves.

Now what you don’t know is that I recently hurt my back. A real nasty pull that put me in the hospital and turned me into a useless blob for the last week and a half. With this twisted back, and a rather impatient dog, I gazed upon the logistical nightmare that unfolded before my weary eyes. What to do!?

Just at that moment, like a lawyer magically appearing at the scene of an accident, a local landscaper appeared. Seriously, not more that forty five seconds after noticing this. He made me an offer that my back couldn’t refuse. I despise paying someone else for work that I can do. Really a big issue for me. But I was left with little other options. So I said yes. *grumblegrumblegrumble*

A pleasant Cuban fella, this landscaper of ours. He said he’d be back by 10am with a chainsaw, a truck to haul the leavings, and another guy to help with the work. $200 was the number for thine plan. 10am was more like noonish…but what could I do? He returned with no truck and a Saws-All in lieu of a chainsaw.

$200 for the work was the deal. But sans truck to haul to the dump, I made them earn that money by cutting up all the wood into nice little fire pit sized chunks. As well as bring it all to the exact opposite far corner of my lot. Separated by size and religious preferences of course.

What I was left with once they had finished around 3pm was a sad looking version of my glorious tree. I lost about 75% of it’s shade-providing mass easily. And sweet jumping Jebus! What a wound!!

After all my boasting and warm pride I am left with little more than a smattering of cool shade and tree majesty. My house looks naked and afraid and my heart is filled with worry about the surviving section of tree.

And how the hell was I going to heal this massive wound that almost goes all the way to the ground!? This tree is nearly totally undone. It is an ex-tree.

The removal of the giant branches (as thick as my fat thighs and as heavy as my heart) had caused the split to close up a little bit once the weight was gone. I thought to myself, “maybe I can fix this! Like the worlds largest graft, she might be saved!”

Likely a fools errand, but I began to formulate a plan. With a bad back coupled with my slightly (slightly!) less than herculean strength on a good day, I decided to get some materials. The biggest ratchet set I could invest in financially. For something that likely will not work anyways.

Straps to bend it to my less than iron will and stretch wrap to help seal in the moisture. I began my attempt at forcing my girl back together.

One-handed idiot

That’s as far as I could do with one hand. I put the phone down and gave it my all.

It took everything I had in me, but I got it damn near closed. I began wrapping the base with a healthy layer of shrink wrap. My plan is to remove the ratchet straps in a week or two and hold it together with only the shrink wrap.

I’m worried that such a fast growing tree after a very rainy wet season will make these straps girdle the tree in no time at all! Which would only serve to strangle the shit out of my poor little lady when she is most vulnerable. So it’s going to be the shrink wrap or bust I’m afraid. Such a massive wound and exposed cuts is just begging for disease and rot. But I may just have a chance to save her. Maybe.

Until then, I shall have some somber fires as I use her limbs to warm the cockles of my weary soul. My sweet sweet giving tree. My precious.


13 Replies to “The Giving Tree”

  1. For a second, I thought that shrink wrap was a tube of super glue! Well, it’s worth a try. We had a similar thing happen with our coral bark maple after an ice storm. One moment we were admiring the glittering ice coating, then by the time we could dash in for our cameras, she was on the ground in three sections, split at the graft. You know what else is sad? People will pass by your house and not even notice your tree is nearly gone!

    1. That must’ve been horrific! At least I slept through this tragedy. The people will remember her in song and lore! Just as soon as I write some sweet songs and make up sweet lore…

    1. So hard to see. I keep getting re-saddened by it over and over again. In the middle of a conversation with a friend I stopped, looked off into the distance and said, “oh! My poor tree”.

      My friends think I’m a bit off.

      1. I once lost a pear tree to fireblight–in 8 inch increments over a three week period. You’d have thought I’d lost a family member. But you see, from my perspective, I had. (And, your friends are right.)

  2. So sorry it happened, I watched it grow from the dark days in the garage as a stick (possibly not stolen from Balboa park) to a magnificent tree.

    1. It was definitely not stolen from Robb field in OB. Which is oddly specific for an obviously not stolen branch… *clears throat*

      Who is this by the way? It just says “someone”. Someone who apparently knows all my secrets…

  3. What a sad, beautiful story. I am praying to the nature goddess to show love and reward for your careful labors. Um, also, where did you get the lime green porch chairs? I got so nostalgic seeing those and remembering my grandpa sitting on those very same chairs in his back yard rolling cigarettes and teaching me to be proud of our Native heritage.

  4. Also I don’t know why I’m appearing as “Anonymous.” This is Julie Kendig. I am not the one who knows the origin story, but I certainly wish I had her mystique. ; )

  5. Hey James, this was really sad to hear that she spilt from the storm. How is she doing now with your ratchet strap n’ wrap repair holding up?

    1. I took the straps off last week and now it’s just the shrink wrap. I added more of that as well so the entire wound is sealed. So far, everything is holding up and the tree looks stable and healthy. Time will tell if it remains that way, but at this point I’ve done all I can do. All my fingers are crossed!

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