Missing tree

gone beech 1Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap.

The first flip-flops of the fall semester are coming up the sidewalk across the lawn in front of Old Main.

Slap. Slap. Slap. Slap.

They stop short. There’s a brief rummaging sound, then the snapping open of a cellphone, followed by seven beeps.

Hey Brad, it’s me. I’m here on Old Main lawn, on that sidewalk above the Wall?

You’re where? Oh, sorry! But listen, you gotta come down here RIGHT NOW. I want you to tell me I’m not crazy!

beech with three-part trunkWell, you know that tree with like the smooth gray bark and the great big limbs that reached all the way to the ground? The one we used to party under, and you carved our initials on it way up high where no one would see it unless they climbed?

Yeah, O.K., a weeping beech — whatever. I called it the Umbrella Tree.

Listen, it’s NOT HERE.

I’m DEAD serious. I’m standing here looking at a great big patch of smooth DIRT. It’s like, no stump or anything!

They’ve got the area all roped off, with ribbons and stuff. Oh wait, I guess I can walk around…

beech with fungusNo, the one behind it is still there. But there’s a big orange fungus thing on the back of it, like, I don’t know… Like maybe that’s what happened to the other one, you know?

Yeah, I know it looked healthy last time we saw it, but that was like last MAY.

I don’t know, I’m just saying, maybe they HAD to cut it down.

No, I don’t see how our carving could’ve hurt it. People have been carving these trees like FOREVER. You remember that one on the other side of the sidewalk? “1970 – the year PSU burned”! It’s like a YEARBOOK or something.

Oh wait! Hold on! I was wrong! The tree’s STILL HERE!!!

gone beech 2No, I am NOT. I’m SERIOUS. You know that one big branch that bent down into the ground and came back up again? The one that we — uh, you know. They LEFT it, the part that comes back up! It must’ve put down its own roots! They just cut off a couple of its side branches or whatever. And there’s fresh barky stuff all around it.

WhatEVER. The point is, they’re keeping it! Like, they didn’t WANT to cut down the rest of the tree, but they HAD to.

beech with graffitiWell, maybe, but why would they? They go to all that trouble with those elm trees, when they could just cut THEM all down and put in some other kind of tree. Penn State LIKES trees!

Well, I don’t care if it IS just because of the alumni. Pretty soon we’ll be alumni too, ya know! Well, I will, anyway. You can go back to sleep now. I gotta get to class.

__________

For all you procrastinators: today is the deadline to send in tree-related links for the third Festival of the Trees, which will be hosted on September 1 at Burning Silo. Send them to Bev at burning-silo (at) magickcanoe (dot) com, with “Festival of the Trees” in the subject line.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

5 Comments


  1. BEECHNUTS! I always liked that tree.

    Reply

  2. Yeah, me too. I remember partying under it with O’Brien and company, drinking malt liquor out of 64-oz. Unimart cups.

    Speaking of beechnuts, the one with all the graffiti across the walk from it was raining nuts on the morning I took these pictures. I mean, you couldn’t stand under it without getting hit.

    Reply

  3. Dave, SWMBO asked if the age of that tree was known.

    And I still owe you an e-mail.

    Reply

  4. Well, I suppose the guys who cut it down might’ve counted the rings before they chipped up the stump. But my friend Gabe tells me that the oldest trees in the central campus only date back to the first couple decades of the 20th century, so it was 100 years old at the most. Trees get big when you fertilize them regularly and remove all competing vegetation.

    Reply

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