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Sue's Muse

By Sue Ommen

Mon, May 28th, 2012
Posted in All Columnists


I’ve always considered trees as friends. Serene and contemplative, they serve as gentle backdrops to our private thoughts. Birds nest in nurturing branches, their songs serving as a musical feast for the ears.

As a child I spent hours in the expansive woods near our house, exploring, climbing, and discovering, as a solo act as well as together with friends. I lamented my teenage woes to the gentle giants, the wind rustling their leaves into a sympathetic sigh.

On a canoe trip to the boundary waters, the majesty of the trees was the theater to our youthful laughter and our guide’s lovely vocals with a guitar accompaniment.

In Colorado, we hiked up mountains, admiring the lovely aspens, flecks of gold appearing as the sun dappled their leaves.

When our children were young, we spent many hours on private land in the Big Woods, scoping out wildlife footprints, identifying birds, trees, and wildflowers, enjoying a picnic lunch midday. Once we “planted” shiitake mushrooms in a decaying oak tree, enjoying their rich taste for one season.

Over the years I have had many fond relationships with the trees in my life, as they have provided a companionable backdrop to camping expeditions, family vacations and reunions at the lake.

As I write this column, I consider our former clump of birches, providers of shade on the south side of the house and a gentle resting spot for the winged creatures brightening our yard. In the backyard another large clump of birches have provided a length of shade for the wildflowers along the rock garden. Birdfeeders have hung from her limbs, providing a revolving door of entertainment, as Indigo Buntings, goldfinches, nuthatches, Cardinals, and woodpeckers visited.

Five years ago, we received the unwelcome news an insect was destroying our birches, and eventually they would need to be taken down. The several storms with high winds earlier this spring finally completed the job the insects had begun, breaking branches and severing a tree in the clump of four in the backyard, so it leaned drunkenly against one of its sister trees. Norby’s Tree Service was called and came as soon as the rains permitted and took down the birch trees. It was fascinating to watch as the trees were cut into manageable chunks from the safety of their elevator-like equipment. However, the next day the empty expanses of grass where graceful columns of trees once stood was downright disturbing. Change is hard, especially for someone so attached to the ever-changing vista her trees have provided.

Now we shall look forward to new beginnings, as Standish Instant Shade from Caledonia has planted a 16’ Sienna Glenn Maple in our backyard and two 16’ Burgundy Belle Maples in the front. Hopefully, we will come to love them, as they grow and spread their wings to best show off their colorful plumage of reds, yellows and oranges in the fall.

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