Since she moved into the neighborhood in late 2011, the neighbor in the house to my immediate west has complained to me about Old Man Tree, the splendid red oak tree that is the centerpiece of my back yard. Her complaints have taken on an array of concerns, each growing more nutty. She doesn’t like the leaves it drops in the fall; she’s convinced its responsible for the poison oak in our yards; she’s complained that it may lose branches and fall on her children while they are playing in their backyard; she’s worried that it will fall and land on her house while her children are sleeping. I’ve repeatedly reassured her that the tree is no danger but all of that has been to no avail. Crazy neighbor continues to request that I cut down the tree. I’ve explained that’s not necessary and repeatedly said no. In October 2016, with no warning to me, she reported my tree to the township inspector claiming that it was a dead tree and was therefore a danger.
The inspector left a notice at my house requiring tree inspection. I was furious with him and my unreasonable neighbor. I was also afraid that the cranky town inspector would require removal of the tree, which I dearly love. Within the week, an arborist arrived to inspect the tree. He declared it sound. The summer’s uneven water supply had stressed the tree and the result was some leafless branches and smaller leaves, as the tree conserved its energy. But Old Man Tree is healthy and well, the arborist declared. At over 90 years old, the double trunked gem is one of the oldest red oak trees in central New Jersey and likely to live many more years.
The arborist arranged for the tree to be trimmed; I had the major overhead branches cabled to provide additional strength. The town inspector approved and I explained the plans to my crazy neighbor. Overhead branches were thinned and the tree was made more secure.
Thankfully, Old Man Tree is here for 2017. He is alive and well and stands guard over my house, an amazing display of Mother Nature’s strength and beauty.
Old Man Tree remains the anchor of my backyard and each day his noble and enduring strength make my heart sing.
For 2017, I’ll celebrate Old Man Tree on the first of every month. In his majesty and endurance I find hope in a year that badly needs it.