Ye Old Walnut Tree

walnut tree distant image
walnut tree up close image
Walnut tree up close

Age gets to everything eventually. The walnut tree which fed an army of squirrels and provided much shade while weeping sap onto vehicles was no exception. Some time ago Comm Ed sent an Arborist out to tag trees which were or would soon be an issue for the power lines. I did not now this, but in Illinois, if a circuit has more than 7 outages in a year Comm Ed has to pay a fine. The second year it happens the fine doubles. I don’t know if it perpetually multiplies, but, after the second year the fine is high enough for Comm Ed to pay for the full tree removal they should have been doing in lieu of the “quick trim” you see happening most summers.

Come on. You’ve all driven down streets and saw trees with what looked like holes cut in them. That’s a power outage in the making. If the owner of the tree feels that strongly about the tree they should pay to move the power line.

walnut tree rotted center
Walnut tree rotted center

It may be rather difficult to tell just how rotted the center was from the photo, but it was bad. It was also sneaky. Unless you happened to walk behind the tree to the part which faces away from everything you couldn’t see it. There was no doubt a wind storm was going to take it down soon, the only question was which one.

This tree also helped provide ample entertainment via the squirrels it attracted, fed and tormented. Yes, it tormented the squirrels. One could not gather full enjoyment from this torment until there was a good coating of snow on the ground. Without the leaves the squirrels seemed to have trouble telling which branches were healthy and which were not. One thing was certain though, there was a walnut out at the end of this branch and they wanted it. Sometimes you would be lucky enough to be out in the yard, hear the snap and turn to see branch, squirrel and walnut free falling to the powder. More often than not you would come out of the house after a fresh dusting of snow to find a new branch down and a few feet off to the side a squirrel sized point of impact which wasn’t there before it snowed. Never saw the squirrel laying there though. How they can fall so far and just hop away from it I will never understand.

using ropes image
Using ropes
ropes closer image
Ropes closer
Man in tree image
Man in tree

Of course the bulk of the really cool power tools were already being used at other job sites when the crew arrived. These guys didn’t even have a bucket truck or T-Rex to lift someone into the tree. New ropes with teardrop shaped weights were thrown as high as they could then with a rope on themselves and someone else pulling they had to “walk” themselves and a chainsaw up the side of the tree.

At some point everyone bitches about their job, that’s just human nature. Next time you do, think about these guys. Cutting trees which, in many cases, are already touching power lines. This one was not touching but it was close to both lines and a transformer. More than one in the fence line where they also had to remove trees was touching. Some of the trees had so much current go through them they had already died. Yes, a power line will kill even a tree.

On this job they also had to tie ropes to the limbs they were cutting to keep them from falling into the propane tank below. Upper management didn’t schedule this job with our propane provider. While I’m certain it wouldn’t be free, had they scheduled in advance the tank could have been pumped and moved first thing in the morning and they probably would have gotten the walnut tree down in one day.

walnut tree end of first day image
Walnut tree end of first day

At the end of the first day the old walnut tree looked kind of like it had a Bert from Sesame Street hair cut.

I was kind of shocked to see the same crew show up the next day given how exhausted the seemed. They didn’t come alone though. One day of being screwed like that was enough. They even managed to bring some fancy saddle clamp kind of truck for moving the big hunks. Yes, they were piling the big stuff by hand on the first day so it had to be cut small and that took time.

With all of the manpower the second day went by quickly. By lunch time they were pretty much done, just some grinding and other cleanup work to do. They really went at it while it was still cool in the morning. It was certainly hot after lunch. Some of the crew kept their hoods up the entire time they were working. I understand it was to keep the wood chips and other debree from getting around their necks and down the shirt where it would itch profusely, but it wasn’t that cool out.

end of second day image
End of second day
rotted stump image
Rotted stump

The place looked a bit strange by the end of the second day. While I will miss the shade of the old walnut tree and watching the squirrels frolic in it, one look at the stump says it was the correct decision. Just that little bit around the edge was all that held it in place in the high winds. It was definitely a tragedy waiting to happen.


Leave a Reply