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Our Beech Tree

October 11, 2018

When we bought our house in January 1982, the beech was fairly empty of leaves, covered in snow, and standing at about 20 feet tall and about 10 feet in diameter. By the time we moved to the house that March, those remaining leaves had fallen and the snow had melted. Over the years, we learned a lot about beech trees - leaf raking can often be forestalled until the next spring when the leaves finally fall. Taking care not to overprune the tree is important since the bark is prone to 'sunburn' which can open the tree to infection (advice courtesy of a delightful Belgian professor). A lush green lawn will not exist beneath a beech tree, nor will plants appropriate for 'part or mostly shady' locations. (Early spring risers like bulbs and some woodland plants and shrubs can tolerate the darker habit beneath the tree.)

I love the changes the beech experiences annually. In spring, the leaves emerge as a delicate, almost pink color. Throughout the summer, various shades from purple to lush green show, depending on rainfall and temperatures. (We once thought our beech was a copper beech because of the leaf color.) After the frost, the leaves turn to brown and curl slightly, but many stay attached well into the winter. Always present, though, is the beautiful, smooth gray bark that reminds me of an elephant, maybe because of the tree's size and physical presence.

The beech has prospered during our time in this house. It benefitted from the removal of a massive locust tree that died next door and shaded it from afternoon sun. Twice as much sun resulted in a growth spurt, and the tree is now much taller than our house. It is beautifully proportioned and is one of the primary landmarks that help first-time visitors locate us. It stands outside our office windows (and the bedroom windows, and the front windows - you get the idea) and serves as inspiration and a focus for reflection.

Our beech tree signifies 'home' to me. I hope everyone has their own beech tree counterpart in their life.

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