If you’ve assiduously read Syngrammata (you haven’t? why on earth not?) you’ve already met Loggy McLogface, the white oak wedge and Chesty the American Chestnut peel. These fragments of former noble trees came to me second hand.

But in the last week three trees which grew within mere hundreds of feet—or less—of my house have been felled. At least two of them were culled for sickness: see the mold stains in the heartwood. Yet despite being a relative newcomer to Scranton, I had nevertheless seen these trees every day, and had grown particularly fond of the crusty old beech on the Marywood campus.

I have a soft heart for trees, and while I’m not heartbroken to see them go, their loss does make me quite sad. Maybe sad is not the right word: shocked, perhaps, that a fixture of my life has been suddenly lost.

Thanks to the egregious kindness of the arborists, I now have several discs from these trees to join my pals Loggy and Chesty, destined to be sanded and finished (mummified, if you like). Without further ado, and retaining the conceit of giving my projects ridiculous names, may I introduce:

Robert Maple-Thorp!

Figure 1. Maple section dubbed ‘Robert Maple-Thorp.’ Photo: author.

Maple-Thorp lived, while it lived, right across the street. This is from the main trunk, but high up in the tree.

Naughty Oak!

Figure 2. Oak sections (same tree) dubbed ‘Naughty Oak.’ Photo: author.

Naughty lived two doors down the street, on the other side. I could see Naughty from the bathroom window every day when I showered. The one-foot diameter discs in figure 2 were from a high branch.

Beech-y Keen!

Figure 3. Three beech sections (same tree) dubbed ‘Beech-y Keen.’ Photo: author.

Beech-y was my friend, the sentinel at the entrance to Marywood. The sections in figure 3 were from high in the tree. They’re well over a foot in diameter, and might have been parts of the branch at the lower right of figure 4, which is what Beech-y looked like (in part) 4 days ago.

Figure 4. Beech-y Keen paulo ante mortem. Photo: author.

Figure 5 shows what you will find now.

Figure 5. Beech-y post mortem. Photo: author.

We had a rainstorm this afternoon, and the water brought out the colors in Beech-y’s stump. I photographed it fairly extensively (figures 6-14), though in a hurry, because I had to pick up my wife. Forgive the bad composition, please, and enjoy Beech-y’s last gift of sublime beauty.

Please note that I upped the contrast and zapped the color of Beech-y’s rings to bring them out better.

And someone ought to take a belt sander to Beech-y’s stump, stain it, and seal it to preserve its wondrous patterns.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

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