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Jeffery Kurz

Kurz: Area is a treasure of trees

I like trees. I like them a lot. I don’t think about trees often, but sometimes I think I think about them more than I think.

I used to climb trees when I was a kid. It’s been a long time since I tried something like that, and I’m afraid if I did that once I got up in a tree I wouldn’t be able to get down. Or maybe it’s that I wouldn’t want to come down.

It’s easy to take trees for granted around these parts, because there’s so many of them and they’re all over the place: maple, elm, oak, beech. Streets are named after them.

Living around here it’s also easy to forget that trees aren’t all over the place all over the place. In the Northwest there’s a predomination of evergreens. In northern California there’s the eucalyptus, with its unmistakably distinctive aromatic presence. In the American Southwest a good climbing tree is hard to come by.

The great thing about trees is that they’re always there. They don’t get to come inside when it’s crummy out. They’re tough, they’re resilient, they change with the times.

Last year I was worried about the trees because they looked sick to me. All the crazy weather was making them look droopy. They shrugged it off and were looking pretty good by this spring.

This year I’m worried about this giant maple outside my home. The leaves are already starting to turn and it’s still early August. What’s up with that? What’s going on with that tree?

My favorite type of tree is the ginkgo. I like the silly name, for one, and, two, it looks like something that could get along well in outer space. When we head to another world we ought to take a ginkgo or two along just to show what a remarkable place it is where we’re from.

I’ve been thinking about trees lately because of Wallingford, which among other attributes is a town obsessed with trees.

Any time a tree doesn’t like the way Henry McCully is looking at it people get up in arms and start holding meetings and writing letters.

The other day, 30 people came to a meeting to talk about trees. That’s not exactly Fenway Park, but it’s a big crowd for such an occasion.

McCully, who is the town’s tree warden, wants to cut down 28 trees lining Quinnipiac Street. The plan is to get them down now so new trees can be planted in October, which is supposed to be the best time to plant.

The town has been down this tree-lined path before with McCully, and with Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. In 1998 there was what became known as the “Chainsaw Massacre,” which involved the removal of honey locust trees. Just a little more than a year ago about 30 people showed up for a contentious hearing about a plan to cut down six trees on the Town Green. Among those objecting was Town Councilor Nicholas Economopoulos, who suggested McCully could have handled things differently by sending out a plan. McCully responded that it was a maintenance issue.

It is, but it’s also one that’s become needlessly and repeatedly contentious. A long-term plan now being called for, a result of that meeting the other night, would help resolve that and help people like me who don’t know much about trees other than that they like them.

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