How the Mighty Have Fallen: the demise of our tree

It seemed in the end as if the tree itself declined our efforts to save it. During the windstorm on June 13, 2018 the one remaining large top limb of the old Norway maple in front of our house fell. At a little before 4 p.m. I was sitting with a friend in the living room, our backs to the window. We heard an explosive crack as the limb was wrenched from the trunk; I turned and caught a glimpse of green streaking by as it fell. She yelled, “What was that?!?!?” It did not fall on the house, but across the front yard (which is why we are not dead.)

The neighbours’  house was made completely inaccessible – the front door was totally blocked and so was the way to the rear. When those kids came home from school they had to go through our house to get to their back door. The driveway was completely blocked so we could not get our cars out.

It damaged our front porch roof and pulled down the eavestrough. It pulled down the hydro wires and the hydro mast attached to our house, and we were without power until it was repaired the next evening.

Of course before the wiring could be repaired workers had to remove the downed limb and as they cut it into manageable pieces, the reason for the disaster became visible. Its heart had been eaten. Its core had been hollowed out by carpenter ants. 

If you have read the two previous instalments of this tree saga (Condemned! and Saved!) you know that carpenter ants were the explanation of why the first major limb fell. The arborists who reassessed the tree after that first limb fall sliced through the fallen limb at various points and because the nest had not penetrated to the main trunk they declared the tree healthy. We were ecstatic – a reprieve for our tree! Those arborists were our heroes! But not so fast…

There were only two main limbs off the trunk originally. If one had a carpenter ant nest, why wouldn’t they assume that the other limb could also be infested? Isn’t there some way to bore into it and check? We’re no arborists – we relied on their expertise. Why were they so certain when clearly they were so wrong? Talk about how the mighty have fallen – not just the tree – these guys are no tree-saving heroes. When I think of the disaster that could have resulted – 10 minutes later the boys next door came home from school and could have been right under it as it fell. Or my friend and I, oblivious, as we are crushed to death on the couch! Over-dramatic imagination maybe, but I must say I am a little distrustful these days of both experts and big old trees.

– Schuster Gindin
Photos by Schuster Gindin

Read the original story of the windstorm-damaged tree here and about how it was saved here.

This article can be found in WHAT’S HERE in the section The City.
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