Hickory Eulogy

It is always a sad day when one of our trees has to be removed.

This majestic, healthy Hickory was growing into a danger to our home through no fault of its own. It was our mistake. In our desire to preserve as many trees as we could, we built too close to it, and it had to go.

This tree was a favorite of the squirrels. From late August through October, the squirrels would disappear high into the dense foliage about fifty feet up and chew through the husks of the Hickory nuts to the heart. Their gnawing rained down husk debris almost continuously. There are still plenty of food sources for the squirrels in our forest, but they’ll surely miss this one.

This tree spoke loudly, as all trees do, through the rustling of its leaves in the breeze. But it also dropped large, heavy Hickory nuts onto our deck and our metal roof. The startling, gunshot-like sound guaranteed we were aware of this tree’s presence.

I enjoyed watching it leaf out in the spring and studied the shape and color of its foliage in that meditative, out-of-time way that drawing or painting a subject provides.

Hickory leaves by Allen Brown

There is discussion these days about whether trees are sentient. I am reading Suzanne Simard’s book “Finding The Mother Tree” which explores the relationship trees have with one another and with other living things in the forest – including us. This subject is also explored by German forester Peter Wohlleben. Both Simard and Wohlleben are criticized by other scientists for anthropomorphizing trees. There’s an exploration of both sides of the issue in this article from Smithsonian Magazine, “Do Trees Talk To Each Other?”

Living among trees, I know I have developed a bond with them, and I mourn when one has to go. I always plant one or more to replace any we lose. I haven’t decided yet what to plant to replace this one, but whatever it is it will be placed in a safe spot. I’m partial to Linden trees. Or maybe another Hickory. Our felled “Mother Tree” has left many children from which to choose.