oranje - recent posts from my current home

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pussy Willow - R.I.P.

About six years ago a friend gave me a pussy willow wand. It was about five feet in length, so when I got it home I broke it into three shorter lengths and put them in water.

I must have been in a hurry because one of the wands went in upside down.

A week or so later, all of the wands had sprouted roots, including the one I had put in upside down. Not being one to deny such an undeniable will to life, I planted all three wands in my postage-stamp-sized backyard. By the beginning of Fall, the upside-down wand had taken firm root and had grown about three feet.

I was pleased.

Pussy willows, along with Queen Anne's lace and Cat tails are among my favorite plants. With its long, green leaves and multiple trunks it is interesting, intricate and beautiful. Much to my surprise, I found that the willow had grown at least another foot over the winter. At the beginning of summer I spent an afternoon trimming it back to a bout five foot in height and bundling the branches. The tree was only about eighteen months into its growth at this point but was already well over twelve feet tall.

During the following storm season, the wind whipped up the Allegheny River valley one particular evening. Rain sheeted down and small rivers swirled through the streets. The next morning, I went out to see how much damage had been done to the backyard and found the pussy willow canted over with its roots exposed. I trimmed the top of the tree, thinking to get some of the weight off so that it could be propped up and saved. The next day, when I went out to finish the job, I found that the tree had righted itself overnight.

That was a little scary.

But I still loved that tree. I probably should have gotten rid of it then, while it was still somewhat manageable. Maybe if we had kept up with maintaining the tree it could have stayed a part of our lives. But with so much happening, it became more and more difficult to get out and do more than the most basic maintenance.

After six years, one bad storm and two severe trims, the tree had grown to a two-story height. It had spread to cover not only our yard but our neighbors' yards. The main trunk is a good eighteen inches in diameter. My schedule has grown more chaotic and packed while the tree has grown by feet every season. Tom has spent his last three weekends trimming the tree in preparation for removal. Our new neighbor is gutting her house and generously allowed us to dispose of the debris in her dumpster. The tree is almost completely down. There is still a trunk, about five foot high, left. But that will be relatively easy to dispose of.

I think we should just pave the whole backyard and paint it green.

2 comments:

Barry said...

I smell a Stephen King story in this. That willow don't sound like no pussy at all.

Peace & Love,
Barry

Susan Constanse said...

Hey, you might have something there. Maybe I can work up a horror story. I can see it now...

Title: The Restrained Gardner

A pussy willow is haunted by the spirit of the dead gardener buried at its roots....