Friday, May 10, 2019


My oak tree is dead.

My house was built in 1926. The oak tree was probably already established at that point. I'd guess close to 150 years old just by how many people it takes to wrap our bodies around it (Girl Scouts rule of thumb for deciduous trees: one person hugs the tree, 50 years old. Two people to hug around the tree, 100. Three people, 150).

The former owners had it trimmed back but the people they hired were butchers and topped the tree terribly.

Last year the tree seemed sick when it leafed out, but my forester friend John said to give it a few years, it could come back with some TLC.

This spring, a branch 8 inches in diameter and 15 feet long landed on my roof in the middle of a thunderstorm. The tree barely leafed out. It looked bad. I called some tree services who confirmed my fears. The tree's main trunk had hypoxylon canker. No bueno. The tree was suffering and a fungus was helping it die.

I got some quotes. $5600 from one service, $8750 from another. The tree has to come down and my yard, the actual grass area of my yard that is not a detached garage or the house proper, is only about 30 feet by 15 feet. There is no way to let nature take its course gradually as if we had a giant oak in the woods out is the main feature of my yard and it is a dying hazard.

In addition, my boss offered me the terrible choice of either leaving my kids behind and not looping with them to 8th grade, instead staying on the 7th grade floor which is being gutted by teacher and support staff attrition, or go to 8th grade with my students and leave my (sometimes truly annoying but effective) partner teacher behind to be partnered, each of us, with weaker versions of the other.

It's not a choice. My partner told me it's the price we pay for doing an excellent job this year--the boss wants to spread the wealth either to different teams or to different kids. It sucks.

And my allergies are the worst they've ever been and it's already settled into a brutal cough that I'm afraid will become a predatory infection.

But Sophia went to prom for the second time this year, this time with a group of friends to one of the local boys' schools. Maeve finished her first season of lacrosse this afternoon happy and feeling successful. Leo is seeing the Avengers movie and staying the night at a friend's. So it's not all lousy news!

The tree will come down this summer. I will adjust to whatever change the next school year holds, and each school year is like a separate life (ala Mali) so I know as this one dies, all I can do is help birth the next. And I'm young and strong so pneumonia probably won't catch me. Here's hoping.


  1. Oh, man. This is brutal. I'm sorry about the tree. I'm sorry about the money. I'm sorry about the "choice."