If we think about the tree as a design, it's
something that makes oxygen, sequesters carbon, fixes nitrogen, distills water,
provides a habitat for hundreds of species, accrues solar energy, makes complex
sugars and food, creates micro-climates, self-replicates. So, what would it be
like to design a building like a tree? What would it be like to design a city
like a forest? So what would a building be like if it were photosynthetic? What
if it took solar energy and converted it to productive and delightful use?
The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a
green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and
deformity... and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man
of imagination, nature is imagination itself.
-William Blake, poet,
engraver, and painter (1757-1827)
This tree stands in the back corner of my yard. I fear and loathe it. It's a huge poplar/cottonwood, probably around 70-80' tall, at least. The top third is all dead and
there is a snagged deadfall up at around 45' that is about as big around
as my leg (unfortunately, you can't really see it from this angle.)
The birds love it. It's the highest thing around, and various and sundry feathered ones use it to check out the neighborhood, post their territory calls, or in the case of the blackbird families - just generally hang out. The wood peckers are regular visitors, knocking their hollow 'tocks' that announce they are in for a meal. The robins nested in the poison ivy one year.
Mark has the ivy problem under control, but the tree itself? It's starting to drop things.
We've had a couple of those upper limbs crack free in high winds and come down. There is that snag waiting for a good wind to fall. I wouldn't care if it were out amongst a wood lot, or somewhere isolated where those dead limbs wouldn't be a problem. It's a good habitat tree. We've probably got birds and bats nesting in it. But my neighbors behind? They have little kids. And little kids should be able to play in their yard without fear of the sky falling.
The tree needs to come down, and I've got enough respect for what can go wrong with this job that I don't want to touch it. There is a reason the lumberjacks call a snag like ours a 'widowmaker.' Plus,
if the tree falls wrong, we could take out one neighbor's garage, the other
neighbor's boat and shed, a play structure, and the electrical/cable
nodes for this row of houses... sigh.