Early in the evening last Thursday, a thunderstorm blew through….literally. You could see the gust front on the National Weather Service radar before the rain in the main cell even got to us. It dropped about a half inch that we’re grateful to have, but it also damaged a big old ash tree just to the northeast of our house.
You can see that the windfall didn’t really threaten the house and didn’t even block the driveway. We’re grateful for that too. However, the huge limb that got torn off did knock down some braches from the younger hackberry tree at the end of the driveway. We really don’t know how much damage there is on the hackberry. Although the main trunk of the old ash tree still has a couple large branches sticking up high, the windfall basically ripped into the major part of the trunk. The tree is doomed.
Several years ago when we had some trimming done, we were warned that the old matriarch was at risk. That’s her without any spring leaves yet, looming above and beyond the truck. Now, we’ll have to have the whole thing taken down. We’ll get this equipment out again to work on the upper part that’s still standing. But it’s obvious looking into the broken heart of the trunk, that it’ll be hard for the tree to survive.
When the equipment was here earlier, there was another big ash tree removed. The tree with the most recent damage is just barely visible on the right side of the first photo. The weird-shaped companion that was removed first is more in the center of the picture. Together the two huge old ash trees stood guard on either side of the gate and sidewalk that lead to the “Little House”. Now, only a couple of pieces of the sidewalk will be all that remains to mark the memory.
There are lots of memories associated with the Little House. It was originally part of the homesteaders’ house, but was removed and moved down to this ash grove in 1912. In 1940 Grandpa George and Dad refurbished it so the newlyweds could move onto the farm. In the last few years of her life, Mom had a black and white photo showing her sitting on the front step with a car nearby. She said that it was comforting to look at that picture because it reminded her of her first house, first car, and first job. The folks lived there about three years and then there was a progression of three or four young families that started out there while the fathers worked as hired men. The Little House was abandoned for several decades and then taken down as a part of the cleanup before we built our house.
There’s not much left of the original ash grove and windbreak. The tree shown here at the end of the trail is one of the originals, about the same vintage as the two guarding the gate to the Little House. It has a split in the main trunk and is probably also toward the end of it’s life. Although most of the original ash trees are dying out, there’s a new generation of hackberry trees coming on. And, the most recent additions to the succession of species are the fast-growing mulberry trees. The larger tree on the right is one of the hackberries and the smaller tree on the left is a mulberry. The littlest tree right in the middle between those two, is a young ash tree. So even though the Little House is gone and the newer trees are taking over, there still are juvenile ash trees growing that are probably related to matriarch that just blew down. Maybe someday there will still be ash trees preserving the memory of the Little House and the families that lived there.