The Given Tree

Earlier this summer, I noticed that our huge, old red oak had once again begun a serious decline from oak wilt after we had it strongly trimmed four years ago. Then this week, one of those guys who goes through neighborhoods looking for possible tree trimming jobs made me look at it again: a massive fungal bloom had broken out on two very large limbs, one of which would damage our house and one of which would damage the neighbors if they broke off. Our regular tree service looked at it and recommended that we bring it down.

It was kind of like euthanizing a pet you loved, though we were only the last stewards in the life of an organism that had been around for a very long time. (I will add, though, that the cost was nothing to sneeze at.)

The tree service needed to work from where my vegetable garden is, south of the oak. Everything was done for the year except the basil, which I’d planned to pull this weekend. My plans accelerated and off it came, with an orgy of pesto-making following.


Maybe it’s because we’re pack rats with everything, but I wanted to find a way to make use of some of the tree. I didn’t want to keep most of the limbs: it’s too much wood and too big for me to try and chainsaw myself into firewood. But I kept part of the upper trunk because I thought it would make a perfect bench for outside. All I need to do is plane off the very top, sand it and then protect it a bit. Or so my theory goes at the moment. Of course, once I’m done with that, I’ll have to get a bearcat to actually move the damn thing.


I also decided to keep the bottom eight feet or so of the trunk. I’d been planning this spring to make a treehouse in a maple on the other side of the house. But it seems much cooler to make it on top of a platform laid out on top of what’s left of the oak. So that’s the new plan for the spring. The bottom part of the trunk is still very healthy and should last for a long while even after it sheds its bark. I might try to figure out if there’s something I can do to protect it from insects and so on, though.


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2 Responses to The Given Tree

  1. nord says:

    OK – it might be a little late, but you can check out Marty Long’s tree-artwork (he also does ice and metal)…

    He’s done quite a few homes around Villanova’s campus…

  2. Timothy Burke says:

    Interesting. I’m pretty committed to the treehouse on the remaining trunk, and I have something of an idea about the bench, but that makes me wish I’d kept this one huge piece that was the transition between the lower trunk and the upper trunk. On the other hand, it was so big and awkward that they couldn’t even move it with a bearcat, they had to drag it with chains, so if I’d had that brought into the deep backyard, I think it’s pretty clear that it would be staying there for a long time, even if I found someone to do something with it.

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