Eleven years ago, I bought this house. With it came a short driveway lined with six tall White Pines. I would guesstimate the trees to be not much older than 80yrs old. Long enough for them to have seen this house go from being a tiny one room farm house built by the farmer in the 1840's... to being added on to at the end of the century. Another small room was added in the 1930's. A woodshed sprouted off the back sometime in the 50's. Finally just before I bought the house, my neighbor gutted the entire house, tore out all the original character, molding, trim, plaster... you name it. Dumped it all. Scraped the walls down to bare studs. Rewired the whole house. Replummed it too. Covered the whole house in vinyl siding for good measure.
And through it all, these six stately pines stood watch over this tiny house.
They have weathered so many windstorms, branches tossed about and needles littering the ground. They stood sentinel against the early season icestorms that snapped low branches, bowed to the ground under the strain.
Most of all, they creaked and swayed in our summer breezes. Giving us shade even on the hottest days. For Nancy, these tall pines reminded her of her grandfather's home where she and he spent so much time, walking through the stately pine trees. Each time one of Nancy's cousins would come to visit us, they would comment about how the massive trees reminded them of Grandpa.
Three years ago one of the big trees was hit by a lightning strike. It was such a violent blow that chunks of bark flew over a hundred feet to the road. The sap apparently boiled instantly and exploded violently. In the coming years we watched the neighboring trees die off, one by one. This year the only ones left were leaning severely, and the four in the middle were dead as toothpicks.
Nancy and I had some major fear about the trees falling on the house in one of our windstorms. We've seen it happen around here, time and time again. Aiming to be proactive, we chose instead to cut the trees down. Our friend Lee Ginenthal, of Der Rosenmeister Nursery, suggested that we have the trees cut ten feet off the ground so as to leave tall stumps that could be built into a future rose arbor.
At first, I couldn't imagine anything but a classic, post and beam arbor, but as the Summer passed and I saw that these trees really needed to come down, making use of the trees became more important. We hired our neighbor who runs Treetops tree service. Mark made short work of the massive job. He felled all the trees before noon... swinging from tree to tree in his harness with his chainsaw by his side. Limbing up farther into each tree, making sure that when it fell, it wouldn't snag anything on its way down.
These images were taken the following morning. The fog had rolled in, and as the sun came up and we could really survey the devastation, it became clear that everything had changed.