Friday, May 20, 2016

A Tree Falls in Grafton

We had a lot of excitement around here lately (for a sleepy rural village.) During a windstorm a few weeks ago, one of the two huge, ancient weeping willow trees at the back of our house split, and half of it fell on the driveway.  The tree clearly was hollow and rotting inside and we called a tree man who said we'd have to take the rest of it down.  The other willow could be saved for now, but it needed to have dead branches removed and the rest of it pruned so it would be fuller and healthier next year. (That's the main house on the left.  The building on the right has guest rooms and Nick's office on the top floor and the garage and rec room leading to the pool on the lower floor.)
This was really bad news to the Gage family, because the giant trees, planted at least 150 years ago, had been sort of the symbol of our house, the back of which dates back to 1722.  I even painted one of the trees on our mailbox (along with our late cat) and the kids had named our "estate" "Twin Willows".
On Wednesday morning, three young men working for the tree service came with two trucks.  One was a bucket truck lifting a man high enough to cut off limbs and the other two men fed the limbs into a wood chopper in the other truck.  First they cut all the branches off the sick tree.

Clearly it was rotten at the core.

When nothing was left but a lonely trunk, the man in the bucket started removing dead branches from the other tree.

While I was taking pictures I noticed that the lilies of the valley outside the kitchen window were in bloom, so I picked lots.

By afternoon it was time to take down the lonely stump of the victim tree.

One guy took out a really big chain saw and another held on to a rope attached to the top of it.

He cut out a big wedge so the tree would fall in the right direction

Then he cut from the other direction straight through.  It starts to fall...

And it's down.

But as the three tree men crowded around, they saw eyes peeking out of a hole in the tree at the far right in this photo.  It was a baby racoon that quickly pulled back inside.  They decided to cut off  a piece like a lid to the log to see what was inside.  Immediately one baby raccoon raced out and climbed high into the cleft of a nearby tree.

A big momma raccoon also burst out and disappeared into the distance.  And two more babies remained inside the hollow, alive but not going anywhere.

The three tree men put the lid back on the trunk and pondered what to do.  They called the log truck man who was supposed to take away the logs and told him not to come till tomorrow.  One guy called his girlfriend and she told him to bring one of the babies home as a pet, but I nixed that.  I called Tufts Veterinary School nearby and they said just leave the babies alone unless they're wounded or become deserted by the mother.  The tree guys left.  Later at dusk, somebody said they saw the mother raccoon across the road.

Thursday I woke up worried about what would happen to the babies when the log truck guy came.  He didn't come until the afternoon.

But first we took the lid off the hollow trunk...It was empty.  The mother raccoon had gathered the three babies in the night and moved them to another home.

So the log man picked up the remains of the tree...

And we said farewell to the weeping willow that had stood sentinel at our house for more than a century.


World Costume Dolls said...

Pleased that you and you family are all safe, and also the raccoons. Thank you for sharing this story. Carole.

Nick Basbanes said...

Sounds like a pretty nice children's book there, Joan -- and you've got it all written.