Two trees I saw and photographed this morning on Woodlawn Street in Scranton remind me of the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the man is collecting the bodies of people dead from the plague. One man about to be hurled onto the pile says in a vexed manner “I’m not dead yet!” The man trying to rid himself of the body objects that “he will be soon.”
Well, someone is trying to hurl this maple onto the wagon and has marked it with the pink spots of death (figure 1).
The civic employee eager to see this tree outta here might object, “it will be soon,” for the tree has split down the center and is being pulled in two. In some places they might place an iron band around the trunk to keep it together, but I guess not here. But if the tree were to be permitted to split all the way and topple, an electric wire might get hurt, and the avoidance of that unthinkable possibility appears to drive Scranton policy.
Scranton is a pretty nice place in 100 ways, but its policy of protecting the sacred wires (instead of burying them, for example) as a categorical imperative of sorts is not one of them.
This beech, however, has, I think, been blasted by a lightning strike which has blown out a line of destruction down at least three large limbs (figure 2). The bark has been explosively hurled back from the wood within, its curled flaps hanging off and down. The exposed wood is severely damaged and appears to me to be rotting. I think this will prove fatal to the tree because wires!, if not because the tree’s ability to hold itself up is being slowly compromised.
The tree is hedging its bets, however. I think that ring of shoots surrounding the trunk are suckers reflecting the tree’s awareness that it is dying.
Trees live and die, of course, but one wishes Scranton were as assiduous in planting good new ones as it has been in felling even suspect trees. And for God’s sake, do let’s bury the wires. I’m so tired of lobotomized trees drooling and mumbling to themselves along all the streets of this town (figures 3, 4).