Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We have a walnut tree at the front of our house, a tree that I both love and hate.
There’s not much yard between my house and the sidewalk; our porch has wrought iron railing, and it’s at a corner of the railing and to the edge of the sidewalk that this tree thrives.

The Walnut has more than doubled in size since we’ve been here. When we first moved in, the kids could step from the railing to the crotch of the tree, giving whichever one of them called it first a really cool seat when we were all on the porch together.

In those days, the tree shaded about a third of the house for part of the morning. Our house faces east, and in the south east corner of my porch, the morning sun has never shone when the tree is in full leaf.

We used to spend every nice summer evening—and more than a few thunderstorms—on that porch, under that tree, sipping coffee, reading, or just talking. My beloved and I believe it was our near-constant presence and chatter that helped the tree to grow so well.

Now, the crotch of the tree is forever out of reach, unless one wishes to execute a dare-devil manoeuvre from the roof of the house; the porch is completely in shade in the morning; and, sadly, branches are threatening to rub on our roof.

We’re going to have to have the tree trimmed, and despite whatever valiant noises Mr. Ashbury makes, I think we are going to have to call in professionals to do so.
That’s for this spring, I think, before the new leaves come out.

As I write this, I can tell you that not only does the tree shade the porch, but my office window, too. Yes, it stretches that far to the north—my office is to the north of the front door. And as I write this, there are walnut leaves, one by one, floating serenely to earth.

The odd thunk on the roof is the sound of walnuts falling to the ground…eventually.
Most of the walnuts are quickly gathered by the local squirrels. Every time I go out to get in the car, I toss any I see on the road back onto the lawn. It’s not only being kind to the furry little rodents; it’s making sure the road in front of my house isn’t dotted with those ugly brown splotches of squished walnuts.

This tree is the last one to bud in the spring, and the first one to drop its leaves in the fall. Actually, it starts losing those leaves before fall—just as soon as Mother Nature decides the walnuts have grown enough.

My Walnut began shedding its leaves about two weeks ago; and, lucky me, it will continue the process for at least another month and maybe even longer.
If I were the fastidious sort, I’d be committed to getting out and raking those leaves at least once every weekend. However, as you may have guessed, fastidious I am not.

A few years ago I tried to be a neatnik. I made myself get out there and I worked hard. I raked and bagged my walnut leaves when the tree was mostly nude. I filled nine bags, and set them to the curb to be collected. I then took the opportunity to admire my front yard, so neat and tidy.

Until the next weekend, by which time the many maple trees in the yards across and down from me had dropped their bounty of red, yellow and brown leaves.

I told myself, as I raked furiously this second time, filling another several bags, that I really didn’t mind cleaning up the mess from my neighbour’s trees; after all, I had enjoyed sitting on my porch and looking at those maples in full leaf for most of the summer.

That particular and very personal and silent mantra didn’t make the chore go any faster, or become any easier to do, of course.

But it did give me a sense of satisfaction—and I’ll take all of that I can get.


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