|Sycamore tree in Ohio|
I come by my love of trees genetically- my mother was an original tree hugger. Back in the sixties we lived on a tree-lined city street, the way most city avenues were at that time: large overhanging trees that shaded the asphalt and the concrete, that were hefty enough to climb, and which turned beautiful oranges and yellows in the fall. But along about the mid-sixties it became vogue to cut down all those trees- they were messy with their leaves that needed to be raked and their roots which cracked all the ticky-tacky sidewalk squares. And so they began to be felled… One or two at time along the streets. About four doors down was a giant Sycamore between the street and the sidewalk.
An oddity of a former time, as its girth looked to predate the twenties when this neighborhood was likely a new subdivision on the outskirts of the city. A full grown Sycamore is more of a rustic country tree; it has ghostly white upper branches from the peeling bark, and usually is seen along river banks rising strongly with wide mottled trunks. It has large hand-like leaves, and little balls of seeds that litter the woodland floor and river banks. It is not a neat and tidy city tree. But such a giant takes many, many years to grow to such majestic proportion, and this tree stood alone in the neighborhood as a relic from the past.
The neighbor, however, had plans to cut it down. I don’t know how my mother caught wind of this fact… But it turned her into a tornado of activity to save that tree. She was successful for the time we lived there… I suppose the neighbor eventually did not know what to make of such fierce love of trees and determination… I have not been back there for a very long time and don’t know if her efforts remained efficacious, but the lesson of love for something that is not quickly replaced, and which speaks of natures grandeur is something that has stayed with me all my life. I mourn to see the reckless way ancient oaks and such are so often removed for more asphalt and more development housing…. And the convenience of today’s idea of “progress”.
It takes only a fierce and loyal love to instill in the coming generation a respect for growing things and preserved environments, and my mother had that. There are times for growing and times for cutting down…To paraphrase the passage of Ecclesiastes, but it is the time for preservation that we have most lost sight of, and which most needs our balancing efforts.
I have, now, a fast growing Sycamore in my field…grown from a seedling, now a sizable tree.
That sycamore came from my mother… and you will be happy to hear,that although most of the trees of that neighborhood were cut down, the one my mother championed still grows. Google maps (street views) confirmed it.