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I hired a hitman

This is the target, my pathetic 14-year-old red maple. The branches at the top center are dead, as is the lower branch on the left. The entire tree is hopelessly misshapen, not at all what a handsome maple should be. And this is its best side!

I hired a hitman yesterday. One day soon, he and his henchmen are going to take out the designated target — a hopelessly malformed red maple in my front yard. I’ll probably feel even more like a murderer after it’s gone. It’s not a pretty tree and there’s little pruning can do to fix it. The center top third is dead, as is a large lower branch. The overall shape is irregular and not at all attractive. Sad, after 14 years.

Everybody wants street trees — notable, attractive trees of some size gracing one’s front yard. On my street, almost all such trees were planted in 2001 by the builder, who probably bought them dirt cheap in lots of several dozen (or hundreds?) and then looked the other way while minimum wage workers stuck them in shallow holes — in many cases probably not even removing the basket and wires around the roots.

A neighbor told me that a former owner, thinking the tree was dead or dying, had started chopping on it with the idea of removing it. He never finished the job. I’ve dragged my feet for eight years, hoping the tree would finally take hold, shape up, do its thing, or something. But no, it’s not grown significantly, it puts out weird branches from places no branch should spring, and it’s only half the size of many other trees on the block that were planted at the same time.

The tree is strategically positioned to block the line of sight between my front window and the garage door across the street. So I will miss it. I will feel guilty having it taken out. I will mourn its loss until the day next spring when some new tree — species yet to be determined — takes its place.


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