Our front yard is our front porch. It is---was---well-shaded, the Chinese tallow and enormous oak and the elm (we think it's an elm) combining at their upper reaches to form a glorious canopy, a towering cathedral-line expanse that on more than one occasion led us to look skyward and remark, "Ah, yeah ..." We usually had three or four lawn chairs and a bench from the backyard picnic table set upon the lawn, and on the weekends, when we were up too early, we'd sit out under our natural canopy, read the paper and sip our coffee. In the evenings we'd plop our self in a chair and watch the passing parade, maybe enjoy one of those dark, bitter brews we allow our self once in a while. It was a Peckerwood's Paradise, and for it we were thankful.
Our porch, alas, is no more, since sometime around 5 a.m. on the morning of Ike, when the winds viciously uprooted the oak and left it sprawling across our front yard and over both lanes of the street. On the way down it knocked loose the streetlight---the bulb is still hanging by a wire and shining, now directly into our front yard---and came partly to rest atop the one fire hydrant on our end of the block. The top of the spindly Chinese tallow---our region's champion "trash tree," but beautiful when its leaves turn---went down in our driveway, while two monster limbs from the elm (or whatever it is) completely covered our neighbor's yard and blocked our driveway. We had, literally, tons of fallen timber out front. Much of it, thanks to our trusty Stihl (fine German craftsmanship!) and the muscle of neighbors and relations, has been cut into movable chunks and placed curbside. But most of the oak still lies in the yard, its roots grasping out into the thin air. We cleared the street and uncovered the hydrant early on, but removal of the root ball most likely will require a large piece of heavy machinery (although one drive-by guy swore his "crew" could dig it out with shovels; we took his card).
But we're in no hurry to see it go, for already we miss our tree. We miss the shade it gave our house in the bald heat of the afternoon, we miss sitting beneath its branches and marveling at its solid, seemingly indestructible mass. We even miss glaring at the two noticeable incisions a dopey friend of our son's once imparted to its bark after we unwisely left a machete lying in the front yard (and our mind grinds fine, wondering whether these now-ancient insults somehow weakened the tree and contributed to its toppling). As a native of these latitudes we've long been partial to the genus, even before we learned that the surname our grandfather brought from the Old World meant "of the oak" in his native tongue.
We are not a tree hugger---we're a tree humper, and it's always seemed to us that the gift of so many varieties of trees hereabouts was karmic compensation for our otherwise featureless local landscape. So we just might pull out the lawn chairs again and let our tree lie for a while, until the neighbors complain or the authorities tell us it must go.