The endangered Ash Tree
What can we say
We have somehow
Numbered your days
Bright in the spring
With hint of all new
In summer you shade us
And make us feel new
So wonderful in the fall
Of Burgundy glow
So majestic in winter
Dark bark against snow
To gaze at your splendor
To wish you to stay
~ Nancy Hupperich
Our family has lived in our small, humble abode for more than 25 years. Most of the trees on our property have stood here since we arrived in the late 1990s — already fully mature. It was the landscape of tall, proud, and abundant trees that invited us in.
The lush trees have provided not only beauty, healthy habitat for wild animals, and shelter from sweltering sun in the summer, but also a place on which to hang our hammock and swing, when our children were very young.
We actually kept the swing attached after all these years. Every once in a while, I have sat pensively atop it.
We have gratefully enjoyed the offerings of the majestic trees, attempting to not take them for granted. To echo the thoughts of this writer, the bold ash trees have served to anchor our front, back, and side yards.
The photo directly above is not reflective of a storm (nor climate change), but, rather, the consequence of the blight of the emerald ash borer (EAB). Accordingly, twenty-one (yes, 21) of our trees (exclusively ash) were professionally felled. This week, it took the tree cutting service 24 hours over the span of 2 1/2 days — long days in the heat — to clean up the devastation created . . . by a frickin’ beetle.
The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) is a destructive wood-boring pest of ash trees (Fraxinus spp.). Native to China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the Russian Far East, the emerald ash borer beetle (EAB) was unknown in North America until its discovery in southeast Michigan in 2002. Today, EAB infestations have been detected in 35 states and the District of Columbia; Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Sadly, over the past few years, the green metallic-like ash borer beetle bore inside our ash trees, ravaging them — leaving behind massive decay, and destroying the natural green canopy above us. In the meantime, the dying trees provided a home for plentiful lichen.
It is crazy to think that a small, shiny beetle can do so much damage.
Saying goodbye to our supportive arboreal friends was much more difficult than I could have ever imagined. It left me feeling exposed, vulnerable, and forlorn. In writing this, I am hoping to achieve some cathartic relief, and to expressly honor their selflessness.
Given reports of genetically modified insects and genetically engineered trees (including the ash tree), as well as accompanying research studying the genetic resistance of the ash tree species to emerald ash borer beetles, I suppose there is a rabbit there to chase. But I am too sad today to chase those pesky bunnies. I’ve got memories to preserve before they get swallowed up by deep rabbit holes; and, indeed, our resident red-tailed hawk has been hot on the local bunny trail.
While we do plan to plant some replacement trees (not of the ash variety), we will not be replenishing our yard with gene-edited biotech vegetation, trees incorporating artificial components, or fully synthetic nano leaf-bearing trees, nor committing our trees to any form of digital slavery — as in, blockchain and tokenization (see TreeChain Network).
Given the precision tree monitoring (including geospatial data) encompassed within the Queen of England’s new Green Canopy tree planting initiative (QGC), I have to wonder if the royal tree planting deployment is mainly about data seeding and harvesting (“planting” an interlinked forest of digital tree twins in the cyber realm) . . . After all, trees are vital building blocks of the Cryptosphere (see Merkle trees here and here); and presumably, blockchain would likely not survive without them.
It seems our tree companions may also not be able to forestall the swiftly advancing nano-bio colonization of life on earth. What are the potentially life-altering implications of full spectrum technological dominance over the wood wide web via sensor-laden ectomycorrhizal fungi (EM)? Read here about a multi-faceted campaign to throw nature under the bus, reimagining all natural life as a networked bio-computational template.
P.S. Collectively, and due to overriding sentimentality, our family decided to keep the base trunks of two smaller ash trees intact — with our swing still attached — despite having to chop off all of their branches. As ungraceful as it may appear (until new trees are planted nearby), the old guys will keep on giving . . .
P.P.S. The one silver lining — plenty of firewood! (The photos below are just a taste of what was gifted to us by our fallen ash trees.)