The Big Excitement


Nearly three-and-a-half years ago when I arrived to live in the slanted little house, this is what it looked like.

It had just gotten a new roof, but everything else was 100 years old, including those two great, big, wonderful sugar maple trees out front. (There’s an old, old photograph of the farmhouse before the front porch was even added on with those two trees as newly-planted saplings. I love that picture. If I can ever get hold of it, I’ll get it scanned so I can post it.) There used to be a metal bar across the space between the two trees. One children’s swing after another had hung from that bar for decades. I played on one of those swings and also on that metal bar, climbing around like a monkey, when I was little. My children did, too, when they were little and I used to bring them to West Virginia to stay at the old farmhouse on summer trips. To be able to climb on top of the bar was a feat. The bar was cut out of the trees shortly after we moved into the old farmhouse, in preparation for yesterday’s big excitement.

Family and friends gathered. Vehicles traveling the country road slowed down to stare. Chairs were brought out for the audience.

And one of those great, big, wonderful sugar maple trees came down, leaving its twin standing sentinel alone.
My cousin told me when he cut the metal bar out of the trees that one of them was coming down. I told him, “You can’t do that. I love that tree.” Nobody ever listens to me. And, sadly, there was good reason for the tree to go. It’s diseased now and it’s too close to something else we all love–the old farmhouse. If it came down on its own and onto the farmhouse someday, it would be the end of that old house.

And so…..yesterday the tree was finally felled.

I wasn’t there for the climactic moment, though I wanted to be. I had an appointment in town while my cousin had a chain saw and a neighbor, so I missed it. As soon as we were done in town, we rushed right over there.
There’s not much going on in the country, you know. The felling of a giant tree is practically a whole day’s entertainment. Just ask Georgia.
This was one enormous tree.
Sap spilled from the stump.
I wanted to tell my cousin to stop cutting off my tree’s arms and stand it back up.
Ideas like that are why nobody ever listens to me.
So everybody just kept doing what they were doing.
What Princess was doing was wearing her pajamas out and about in the middle of the day.
That tree saw a lot of people pass in and out of that house. It shaded summer parties and played host to thousands of birds. It draped itself in winter snow and spring buds and gorgeous fall foliage. Back in the day, its syrup was tapped and used, though that hasn’t happened for a long time now. It started out smaller than that old house and then it towered over it. Its logs will burn in Georgia’s wood stove next winter.

Rest in peace, old tree. I’ll miss you!


  1. it'lldo says:

    It’s 3 am I just spoke with the nursing home there in Sissonville. I had a jerk to awakening moment. I swear he called my name.
    I am sorry about the loss of the tree. I feel your pain. I think I have the same PJ’s… poka dots with little scottie dogs? BTW back in the early 80’s I lived in Pocatalico for a few years. Living and loving your blog for months now from Orlando Fl. All the best. Thunja

  2. Brandy says:

    I wish our yard had tree’s with History like that. It will live on in pictures.

  3. Kathleen in Michigan says:

    I am so sorry about the beautiful tree. I also love those big old trees. My father planted a beautiful blue spruce when I was a very small child and now that tree is towering over the house where I once lived.

  4. CindyP says:

    And Georgia’s got front row seats to the event!! But at least it’s the tree you’re posting a goodbye to and not the Old Farm House :purpleflower:

  5. Kathryn says:

    I am so sorry about that tree. I know just how you feel. I grew up surrounded by what I called “Grandfather Trees” that were on our place in Kentucky. I just loved them. They were friends. I am so glad you have pictures!

  6. Bee says:

    I’m so sorry. Poor, sick tree. Did you save a little piece of the wood?

  7. epon4 says:


    I somewhat understand your pain. I don’t have the family history behind the tree…but I have a 100 year old farm house with a maple tree next to it that is at least that old. It must come down.

    It makes me sad to see something so huge be cut down, but I’d rather it be a control fall away from the house. Plus, whatever is not rotted out can be cut and dried for use in our stove. 🙂

    On the flip side, I’m a little excited about it coming down, too. I plan to put a small kitchen/herb garden in the area it has shaded for so long.

  8. Heidi533 says:

    I’m sad for the tree, but understand why it needed to go. I hope you got to keep a little bit of the tree. Maybe a make a walking stick, or a welcome sign for your door. Or a sign that has your farm name on it.

  9. Nancy in Atlanta says:

    When you think of everything that tree has seen in its lifetime, it really is a sad thing to cut it down. One of my favorite books on my parents’ shelves when I was young was “Under These Trees”, a collection of stories about major events – signing of a treaty under a massive tree, etc. Trees became really alive for me. But when one is sick or endangering something else, there is no choice.

    Miss Princess does look good in her PJs!!!

  10. trish says:

    My neighbor across the street cut down these two beautiful trees in his front yard. What a sad day! I still miss them.

  11. heidiannie says:

    We had an old apple tree in our backyard, 31 years ago when we moved here. Honestly, I wanted to live here because of that old tree- don’t tell my husband! But 12 years after the tee started falling apart. First one section and then another became diseased and we had to cut it down. I saved the twigs and small branches, made small bundles, tied a paper bow around them and put a tag on it giving the year and a short history of the tree with a golden embossed stamped image of the tree on the front. Then I put all the bundles in a huge pewter bowl and decorated the dining room table until Christmas, when I gave them to everyone for Christmas as fire starters. That was fifteen years ago-they were really attractive and most of my family and friends still have theirs.
    Maybe your family would appreciate small reminders of the tree?!

    • epon4 says:

      What a great idea! You crafty people never cease to amaze me. I am so craft/artistically challenged!

      Hmmm…I was able to overcome my fear of bread making because of Suzanne’s site…maybe I’ll be willing to give something crafty a try. 😉

  12. Cousin Sheryl says:

    Hey Suzanne, Cousin Mark says that there is enough of a “decent” log in the tree that he will get some finish lumber planed out of it. Then he said that he will make us a set of shelves from the old tree. I’m sure we can get you a board at least! Maybe even a small end table……

    Do you want to hear another funny tree story? There used to be a pin oak behing Georgia’s kitchen window. Her bird feeders hung from it and it was a real, lively place with all the birds coming to feed. Our son, Madison (the tall one stacking limbs pictured above), was small – preschool or early school-age – when the pin oak had to be cut down. The oak’s roots had messed up the lines to Georgia’s septic tank. :bugeyed: Well Georgia and Bob saved the “notch” out of the pin oak as a souvenir. The notch is a wedge-shaped piece of wood that is cut out on the side which is the direction you want the tree to fall. That wedge sat around for a year in Georgia’s house, drying out, and unknown to us, Madison was very sentimental about it. One day, a friend offered to take the wedge and paint it. Georgia thought this sounded fine so she allowed this and it came back painted like a lovely piece of watermelon. Madison threw a genuine fit! In all his first grade angst, he was UPSET! That was his “favorite” tree and now Grandma had ruined “his” souvenir. Oh, well! He had to just get over it! :hissyfit:

    Anyway, yesterday, when the old maple fell, I told Mark that we must save the wedge and leave it unpainted! :yes: He agreed!

    So, don’t be surprised at what our children think about their homes and yards. Sometimes, they will amaze you!

    PS – They also got the crooked tree next to the walk cut down after you left.
    PPS – Mark is going to plant new sugar maples but they will be out further from the farmhouse. He still won’t let me plant them in my part of the yard! He doesn’t want leaves in our gutters! :shocked:

    Take care!

  13. jean says:

    Gotta love Georgia. She is awesome.

  14. Leah says:

    I live in an upstairs apt. I love the view becuase there are great old tress everywhere out here. I can watch the leaves change,birds stop by and the squirels play up close!Better view than the parking lot,ha,ha!

  15. catslady says:

    That’s so wonderful about saving parts of the tree. That’s nice that you are replacing them – too bad you didn’t have a seed from the very tree to plant for future generations lol.

    We bought where we did because it was a lovely dead end surrounded by woods. We were promised they would never build because it was between two counties. Just as I was having my kids down went a lot of the trees and now fancy smancy homes surround us and while they now have dead ends, I have a ton of cars racing down my street arghhhhh.

  16. anne says:

    I love, big,old trees!
    It’s sad when they have to come down.
    It seems like such a loss.


  17. Harbor Hon says:

    Rest in peace lovely tree. Good to know that your wood will keep Georgia nice and warm next Winter. Love that Georgia had a front row seat to the event. Always great to see her. Suzanne, you take some of the best pictures I’ve ever seen and you can tell a story perfect enough to make us feel like we’re really there. Thanks so much. xxoo

  18. Estella says:

    So sad that the tree had to come down.

  19. Brenda Kula says:

    We get attached to trees. I have two tall spread out pine trees in my front yard. And I have this special attachment to them, although I’ve only lived here four years. I love to look out toward the front while sitting under the gazebo and see the big needled boughs heavy with pine cones.

  20. Fencepost says:

    I hate it when the old trees have to come down.
    Recently, here in SC, there were many huge trees taken down by the highway dept. They are widening the two lane and took out many trees. Breaks my heart!

  21. Donna says:

    When I saw the men with chainsaws, it reminded me that last year my inlaws had a HUGE Black Walnut tree cut down, for the same reason – close to thier home, old, etc. A few of the tree huggers in the family we so upset they did not consult an arborist (sp). Anyway, the remarkable thing is that the man who felled the tree, did it with ONE ARM – he cut it down, AND hauled it away. Everyone that heard the story, said NO WAY..but he did and refused ANY help. It was his life work and he preferred to do it alone. I think he was in a motorcycle accident or something. It was a huge tree.

  22. shirley says:

    Suzanne, your story touched my heart.
    My husband loved trees, and when renovations began on the apartment complex we live in, the very first thing they did was to begin cutting trees.
    My husband was extremely ill and had lost his ability to walk. The tree in front of our apartment was planted there 15 years ago and they tagged it for cutting.
    One of the the things my husband enjoyed there at the last, was to ride his scooter out front and sit in the shade of the tree and have a snack and chat with whoever strolled by. Everybody loved him.
    The neighbors removed the tag from the tree and stood around the tree holding hands and refusing to allow the tree cutters to cut it down.
    They cut down every tree on the property except “Mr. Wilson’s tree”.
    That was May ’07. He passed away in June’07.
    The tree still stands with his bird house hanging from one of the branches.

  23. Lisa says:

    Oh my, I think I would’ve sat down in the yard and cried. I’ve only had to do that once, cut a tree down I mean. I was just sick. An ice storm took it and some greedy man with a chainsaw finished it off. I still fantasize that I could’ve saved that tree. May a new once grow quickly in it’s place. Or close to…

  24. Kim W says:

    We had a monsterous Blue Spruce pine tree in front of our house until just a couple of months ago – now no one can find out house! haha! :wave:

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