Saying Goodbye to Old Willow

I lost another dear friend yesterday: the 53-year-old Willow tree my husband planted in the back corner of our yard the year we moved into this home.

We often sat on the patio with morning coffee and watched it grow. Then I sat alone, remembering that strong, handsome young man who had dug the hole and lovingly patted soil around the roots. As it grew, so did our family.

It’s been trimmed fairly regularly as it began towering over the neighborhood. One grumpy neighbor (who moved long ago, thank goodness) constantly complained about leaves falling into his yard from “…your dirty old tree!”) We trimmed his side, but kept caring for our majestic beauty.

Four years ago I paid $800 to have the top and dead branches trimmed back so they wouldn’t smash into the house during a thunderstorm. I didn’t have the heart to take it down, and the tree specialist said we’d have about five more years.

Then last month I noticed sawdust around the ground beneath it. Then I heard a “thud”!” and huge chunks of bark began falling. The botanist assured me our old Willow was dead and had to come down to avoid serious damage to the surrounding area.

Yesterday,for 8 hours, Montoya Tree Service in Glenview IL climbed up and down the enormous trunk, grown as wide as three full size Maple trees, methodically sawing branches and chunks from the main trunk . The fee included grinding the stump out of the ground and hauling away huge blocks of tree this morning. I did have another surprise when I saw a mountain of stump shavings over that hole, and I asked if they were going to remove it too. They said many people leave it, then spread it around the garden for mulch.

I quickly called MC Landscaping, which handles my lawn care, and owner Manuel Cordoba said,”Make them take it away.It’s not good mulch. I’ll bring black dirt and grass seed to fix the area later.”

Meanwhile I checked Google and found that’s an ongoing controversy. It’s an old view that it’s harmful to gardens, yet many newer gardeners claim they have used it as mulch with no problems. I always side with Mr. Cordoba, and I’m glad the shavings eyesore is gone.

But I’m not glad our lovely old Willow tree is gone. I will miss it and remember it–as I do so many other things–and people– that are no longer in my day-to-day life. Now it’s up to me to keep them all alive with sweet memories.