If you’ve ever lived with a sweetgum tree, you will understand. Last year was the worst. We’ve lived in this house for 24 years and the house was built in 1980. I can only assume the tree is 40 years old since it was probably planted when the house was first occupied.
Sweetgum trees put out balls, the size of an English Walnut, every year that look like tiny landmines with spines all around. It is natures way of moving the seeds from place to place by way of hooking in animal fur and transporting to other areas. Then new trees can sprout. Every year we rake up over a dozen lawn and leaf bags full. The tree also has roots that stick out above the ground just waiting to trip old people like us and makes it hard to mow around. My husband hates that tree.
But in the summer the tree protects our house from the hot west sun in the afternoon and has been home to many birds and squirrels. My husband rescued a juvenile Mississippi Kite who fell from the tree and was unable to fly. Robins and Sparrows have frequent arguments over the best place to build a nest. Blue Jays drive away squirrels and nature continues on as it should.
The historic Oklahoma ice storm in October really hurt the old tree this time. It is not the tree’s first experience with ice storms, but my husband trimmed it substantially when it warmed back up. I can now see the neighbor’s house! I’m sure the sun will help the grass grow underneath it next summer – unless he has it taken out. That seems to be the plan.
I will miss the tree that has caused us back-breaking work for years. It’s lush green leaves turned into a carpet of leaves to be raked every fall – and then there were the sweetgum balls. The house will not look the same. It already seems bare. But as we age, we can no longer look after things the way we used to. Maybe it is time to let it go. But I’m sure I will miss it’s shade and so will the wildlife that live in it.
What are you doing this week? Raking leaves?