Growing up in California we come to revere trees, to see them as something to hold harmless, never to destroy. Yet go to any place that has an abundance of trees and you soon discover that the opposite holds true. Need more space? Rip out the trees. Want more sunlight? Rip out the trees. Need to plant a field or an orchard…? You get the idea. Although there are certainly exceptions. We do have some ancient trees here and they are protected by those who are lucky enough to have one on their property.
I live in a place that once was totally forested, though nowadays not so much. The hills (they call them mountains here) are pretty much left alone, and any boggy area, stream, or river is usually tree lined. Neighborhoods are fairly full of trees as well.
So here is my dilemma. I live in an area that is pretty much a pocket of trees surrounded by fields and crops. It is beautiful here and all the trees provide shade in summer and a view out my window. They are lovely. I have three types of oak, maple, dogwood, holly, and native fringe trees. They all provide shade, lovely fall color, and some bloom, and that is the crux. I want to grow my own fruits and berries, and that takes sunshine, lots of it. On my little acre I can’t plant in the leach field which as it happens is the south side and therefore the sunniest part of my property.
I can’t plant on the northeast corner because that is where the best oak in the neighborhood is growing. Yeah that one, the one I paid the arborist so much to clean up, too shady there and I can’t disturb the roots. The south west corner is where the mini-barn/garage is going and where, as it so happens, there are two other large oaks I want to keep because they put shade on the house on those blistering summer days. So that leaves the northwest corner…
The area will certainly be big enough to hold the orchard, but there is a very big oak and a very old dogwood there. The dogwood is not so hard to cut down as it has lost its crown in the last storm we had. So we took it out today. However, there is still too much shade for the orchard. I feel as if the oak tree is standing there looking at me. I see how big it is, and I understand how long it took to get to that height. I wonder if the neighbors will hate me in the morning as I’m walking towards the tree man to tell him to cut it down too.
Do six fruit trees, three blueberry bushes, and two muscadines make up for one very large, old oak tree? I have second thoughts, but too late now to change my mind; it’s down, being cut for firewood.
Meanwhile, I look at my little fruit trees all lined up and waiting to stretch their roots into to soil and their little limbs to the sky, and I decide that it was a good trade.