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The Good And Bad Of Trees

I was fortunate enough to spend my formative years in a neighborhood where maple, oak and pine trees lined the street. Those trees provided the necessary shade in the summer in a house without air conditioning. Their branches also offered a secondary entrance to a second floor window when certain siblings were late getting home at night.

In the fall, those trees would gift us piles and piles of leaves in which we would play after raking them, of course. Wintertime saw the trees dusted or heavy with snow, making the street resemble a beautiful Christmas card.

As a girl with seven brothers, I learned early on how to climb a tree with the best of them. Our greatest adventures included sneaking into a neighbor’s yard where several apple trees presented us with free fruit. One of us would climb up and shake some apples loose while others would hurry to catch the fruits of our labor.

Another neighbor’s yard had a few pear trees whose fruit was free for the taking. We just had to fight the bees for the pears that had fallen to the ground but we managed.

The trees in our neighborhood were plentiful, with broad canopies of branches that sometimes hid the streetlights. It made for a spooky walk home after a late night of babysitting a few blocks from home. When the wind blew and branches scratched against one another, the resulting unearthly noises made me pick up my pace to get home.

One huge tree was situated in the front corner of the backyard. It was under its limbs that our family’s extra long picnic table sat for decades. A tire swing hung from this tree and kept us entertained for hours. Sadly, time and age brought the tree down with a resounding crash. Its only victim was the well-used picnic table where so many memories had been made.

Last week’s storms that brought so many trees down in the Ohio Valley reminded me just how powerful Mother Nature can be. Huge trees that have stood the test of time were uprooted with ease. The devastation was vast to the landscape and kept many residents in the dark for five days.

It was a blessing no one was injured or killed during the middle of the night wind and rainstorm. My niece’s car was destroyed by falling trees as was another vehicle parked next to hers at Williamsburg Circle in Wheeling. Again, it was lucky no one was in either vehicle. The owner of the other vehicle was victimized twice as a massive tree also crashed through the roof of his condo. He and his wife escaped physical injury, but the shock of such an event is bound to linger.

If anything, last week’s storm and resulting damage make us think about managing the remaining trees around our homes and businesses. No one wants a repeat of what we witnessed all around us. Maybe it will keep us all looking up.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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