Monday, June 11, 2018

A fallen tree

Years ago, when we moved to Georgia, we first rented a small house in Decatur, east of Atlanta and then we bought a house.  But when the first grade teacher of our eldest daughter told us that she was gifted we decided to move to a county where the school system had a gifted class program.  In 1976 we decided on Cobb County because we had a friend who lived there.  On the map below, Decatur is on the middle right hand side and Cobb County, where we moved next, is on the upper left of the map.

This friend had a lovely garden with many roses and ornamental bushes in his 1860 era historic house off the Marietta square.  In 1980 or maybe 1982 he gave me a shoot from his fig tree.  We planted it on the side of our house.  It grew into a large tree, higher than our roof.  It provided us with sweet figs every summer.  I made fig jam for years.  The last bunch I made from that tree, shown below, was in 2014 because that winter an ice storm froze our fig tree to the ground, and it was gone.

At the same time our friend had given my husband a shoot of his black walnut tree.  We planted this shoot in the front yard and a couple of years later, two trunks developed from the base.  The tree grew well and my husband loved it.  The Black Walnut tree is native to eastern North America (Juglans Nigra) and produces nuts in the fall. After several years our black walnut tree gave us black walnuts.  I never ate them because their thick covering is so tough that unless you drive on top of them you can't remove it to get to the nut kernels.  I did eat black walnuts that I bought at the market.  They have a more robust and pungent taste than the common English walnut.  Below are two engravings from circa 1865 which show the tree, the leaves, the green outside cover and the nuts.

Below is a photo of a black walnut tree like ours - with two trunks.  The leaves of this tree are dark green, rounded at the base with a long point; they feel soft and hairy on the underside.  The covering of the new nuts on the tree is lime green.  In the fall the leaves turn bright yellow. It really is a pretty tree.

Some years we did get a good crop of nuts and they delighted the squirrels - the nuts disappeared quickly.  In December 2016 I gathered the nuts in a basket to show on one of my Chalkfest posts.  The nut covering had by then turned yellow and even black.  This hard shell is quite difficult to remove from the kernel and will stain your hands badly.

This was my husband's favorite tree.  Our yard has many trees, mostly pines, but this tree was special to him.  He enjoyed placing a chair next to the hydrangea bush and read in the shade, under the spread of the branches of his black walnut tree, like in the picture below.

Below is another picture of him reading again under his black walnut tree.  This photo was taken on 17 June 2016, on our 49th wedding anniversary.

Next Sunday is June 17, 2018, our 51st wedding anniversary.  Unfortunately he will not be aware of it.  About ten days ago my husband woke up with a pain in one of his feet and could not walk.  He was in the bedroom upstairs, in Nashville, and could not go down the stairs.  With my knee surgery I cannot go upstairs yet while holding a tray of food.  For his own safety and mine I had to admit him into a nursing home memory care unit, close to Nashville, on Sunday June 3rd, 2018.  By now his Alzheimer's disease has greatly progressed - he cannot say more than 4 or 5 words in a day, does not understand much and is unaware of his surroundings.  The nurses told me that they were surprised at how well he was still doing physically after almost 12 years with the disease.  When I returned home in Nashville that Sunday I received a photo in a cell phone message from our neighbors in Georgia.  There had been heavy rain and high winds all week from the remains of a tropical storm and a tree had fallen on our roof.  Below is the picture she had sent me.

So I had to drive to Georgia to inspect the damage.  The drive from Nashville was pleasant because it was a warm and sunny day.  I stopped at my usual little rest area on highway I-24.  It is a small rest stop for cars only, no trucks but the view of Nickajack Lake is peaceful and relieves the stress of highway driving.  Below is a photo I took last November when going to Georgia and the one, on top, I took last week.  I usually stop and drink my coffee, eat a cookie and watch the water.

I was hoping that the tulip poplar tree or one of the small oak trees in the front yard had been the one to fall on our roof.  However, arriving at the house I realized, sadly, that is was my husband's black walnut tree.  The tree was not dead, just uprooted.  It had fallen the day my husband went into a nursing home - strange coincidence.  No one now will read under its branches, for ever more.

 The next day, last Thursday, a tree cutter team removed the tree from the roof and took it away. (Click on collage to enlarge.)

I asked them to give me a small disk from the tree.  After they left I picked up a little branch on the ground that still had some immature black walnuts.  I wish I knew how to carve wood.

Walking back to the front yard it looked strange now without the black walnut tree.  Behind the hydrangea bush there was a large empty space.  Next to this bush, my husband's planters did not have the usual colorful annuals; weeds had grown into them instead, and the pots look forlorn.  A lone black walnut, its tough casing about gone, was hidden amongs the leaves.

The hydrangea had certainly grown and had many lovely blossoms.  We had bought it in a small pot in LaGrange, Georgia, during their Hydrangea Festival in June 2010.  (I still have to write a post on this.)  I need to find out when is the best time to transplant it so I can take it to Nashville.

The house insurance adjuster told me on Friday that a new roof is required as the strong winds have damaged other parts of the roof, and the roof is old.  I'll have to get busy getting estimates for this now instead of clearing out the house.  Driving on the roads around the house, it looks the same.  But when I come back to the house - it is not the same.  I am alone among the boxes, but still, Georgia feels more home than Nashville - I have been living here almost 42 years now; everything is familiar and gives me some comfort.  The years have gone so swiftly by, speeding by as I was busy working, traveling, blogging.  Now my husband will not come back to this house, and our two special trees have left as well.  With this harsh reality should I have depressed thoughts?  No, I won't go gentle into that good night ...

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.  - Dylan Thomas

To warm up our thoughts here is a bright bouquet of hydrangeas by Japanese watercolorist Tsukiyo Ono.


Elephant's Child said...

Heartfelt hugs and oceans of caring are flooding your way.
Such a difficult time. And I love that you continue to see the beauty in life as well as its complexities.
Long may you rage.

Susan Heather said...

I am sorry to hear that you have finally needed to put your husband into care. What a coincidence the tree having fallen on the same day. Hugs from New Zealand.

bayou said...

Dearest Vagabonde, how very sad to see your post and to read that your husband had to go to a carehome. And then the dead trees. Life is very precious and every day counts but how quick the years have passed and we are suddenly realising that we are old. I am in awe how brave you are and how you remain positive.
We experience a bit of the same, this daily 'adieu' and grieve. We sold our farm and are in the process of moving, living amongst boxes right now. My husband has hard moments about his trees, the tulip tree is flowering for the first year and the Davidia, pocket handkerchief tree, has been waving farewell, also for the first time really. He also planted a walnut tree which is laden with fruit this year and a black walnut tree (never had any nuts, so far) they are down in the orchard. I hope, we will ever be able to see a new one in Wales growing and harvesting its nuts.
Je t'embrasse bien fort, à travers l'océan.

Moving with Mitchell said...

I am sorry you can no longer see that beautiful tree but there's something powerful about the fact that it left the house when your husband did... and both a bit too dramatically. My heart is with you. Thanks for sharing the sweet memories and the beautiful photos.

donna baker said...

Big hugs. Black walnut trees should not be planted within 50 feet of gardens as the roots are poisonous. So says the blurbs. That was a special tree. How horrible to deal with that. We have a big oak right next to our house at the farm that has worried me for 30 years. It is rotten at the base and has two trunks. What a special lady you are. Find the rainbows amongst the storms. Siddhartha the Buddha said on his death bed under his favorite tree, "All things pass away. Strive on." Those were his last words. My best to you.

DJan said...

There was a strong relationship between that tree and your husband. Happenings like this do not seem as much like a coincidence to me as evidence that we are all connected in ways we don't realize. I am glad to hear he's being taken care of now, and that you can focus on your own health. I am sending you all my best wishes to you both. And thank you for the lovely pictures and stories. It's always wonderful to hear from you. :-)

Thérèse said...

Beaucoup de courage de ta part dans tous ces événements se succédant. Tu trouveras sûrement quelqu'un qui tirera profit de rondelle de noyer. Ou peut-être tu pourras y faire imprimer une de tes photos.

Dommage: trop tard pour te demander de me récolter 20 noix pour faire du brou de noix, les noyers ne poussant pas par ici. Ayant débuté l'art de l'aquarelle en septembre dernier, j'ai beaucoup aimé travaillé avec le brou de noix.

Tu as tant de souvenirs en tête et dans tes photos, c'est incroyable. Nous avons tant bougé que les souvenirs sont éparpillés pour nous mais j'essaye de documenter comme je peux.

Meilleures pensées positives.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

You wrote this beautifully. A loved one in my family is in the beginning stages of dementia and I pray that I can cope with what’s ahead.

David said...

Vagabonde, That was a strange/weird coincidence re: your husbands admission to the nursing home and that familiar walnut tree falling on the roof of your Georgia home. I had a similar thing happen to me. At almost the exact time and day that my mother passed on, I was stricken by a kidney stone attack. We got the call from the nursing home while I was drugged up in the hospital nursing home. Strange stuff happens...

Leaving a home after all those years has to be emotional, that's for sure. As we get older (and I'm almost 76) change is less welcome and I prefer the familiar over something totally new.

Walnut trees... Ah, the memories. My mother was a weaver (painter, potter, etc.) and she used walnuts in her dyes for fabric. I remember helping her harvest, shell and crush those shell coverings for her dye...a very messy process!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

molly said...

I got goosebumps reading of how his favorite tree fell the same day your husband fell ill. Your pictures are beautiful especially of your husband reading under his tree and of those beautiful hydrangeas. Sending you hugs. I admire your attitude!

Jeanie said...

Oh, my friend, this post fills me with a sad melancholy that tumbles over one thought after another. I'm so sorry about your husband's need to be in a facility. I'm sure it is comforting to know that he is being well cared for, at least. And you must be careful of you knee. But I don't believe the toppling of the walnut tree was a coincidence. Some things happen for reasons we don't understand but I do believe there is connection.

I would sorely miss the fig tree in your new home. How I love figs!

It seems like such a lot -- the tree, the roof, the two houses, your husband, your knee. All at the same time. I hope things will level off for you soon. Meanwhile, I send hugs across the cyberspace to you.

Joared said...

So much going on in your life that must have your mind reeling at times. You’ve done so much as you’ve shared here helping your husband derive what pleasure he could these years as his disease progressed. Another stage with his needing care you are unable to provide now. Seems wise for you to allow others to assume that responsibility. Likely he would want you to recognize your limits and act as you have.

Returning to your home, the memories, the uncanny black walnut tree symbolism, the lovely flowering blooms — all stimulating a broad range of feelings, I’m sure. I send warm caring positive wishes to you.

Z said...

Dear friend, I'm so sorry for your sadness but you're right not to be depressed by sad events. I hope you can continue to look ahead. You looked after your husband so beautifully in his cruel affliction and now, I hope, you can take care of yourself too.

Magic Love Crow said...

I am so sorry my friend! You are going through so much! I believe it wasn't a coincidence, with your husband going into a home and the tree falling. It was for sure a connection! Know, we all love you and are sending you Big Hugs!!!

Magic Love Crow said...

By the way, I truly love the photos of your hubby reading! Thank you for sharing them!

claude said...

Hello Vagabonde !
Je suis profondément désolé pour Jim.
Une ancienne amie à moi est atteinte aussi de cette terrible maladie.
J'espère que ta maison de Georgie n'a pas souffert avec la chute de ce bel arbre.
Ton hortensia bleu est magnifique. J'en avais acheté un mais malheureusement il est devenu rose et est resté rose malgré des apports de produits qui devaient le faire virer au bleu.
Je t'embrasse.

Vicki Lane said...

What a beautiful post! Sad, of course, but the coincidence of the tree and Jim's going into care is stunning. And you are so brave.

This is surely the best thing for him-- and for you. Love to you both.

Glenda Beall said...

I related so much to your post today. I also posted about ageing and the affects of it. I agree with DJan. The tree falling and your husband's entering the nursing home was not a coincidence. The sadness of your story today made me realize that we must make the most of every day, as you are doing.
Like you, I am dealing with knee issues and problems with mobility. See my blog. And a huge poplar fell in my yard, just missing my garage last week. Somehow that has seemed an omen for me. Not sure what it means yet.
Your photographs are wondrous to see. The pics of your husband reading under his walnut tree brings tears to my eyes. You mentioned Nick a Jack lake.Barry and I spent a week on a houseboat on that lake. So glad you are back posting. I have missed you.

Marja said...

Oh sorry to hear about your husband. Our old neighbour had Alzheimer and often got lost and than we looked after him till his wife came home. Not easy for them. Interesting coincidence of the tree falling. Wish you lots of love

Nadezda said...

Dear Vagabonde,
I'm so sorry to know that Jim is in the nursing home now. Sure it was done for your safety too, as you had such difficult surgery on your knee. I don't think that was any coincidence in the walnut tree falling on your house roof and Jim's was entered to the nursing home.
Our lives go speedily when we're getting older, right? It's a pleasure to read your posts and to watch your interesting photos. Wish you to be optimistic despite the hard moments in your life, dear.

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, I missed this posting up early June. Weeks have now passed and I'm hoping that your knee is getting better and better--back to its old abilities. Hoping also that your husband is feeling content in the nursing home. But maybe he is now back with you in the Nashville home.

This posting is so poignant for both you and your husband are aging just as the fig tree and the walnut tree aged. Both of them are gone now, but I feel there is a Oneness to the walnut tree falling and your husband going into care on the same day. We are all--humans, animals, plants, the Eath--all of us connected into a Oneness that holds us in a love that ultimately brings forth goodness.

I believe that and yet in today's political world, it is hard to believe. but you now are caught up in the overarching span of a marriage and a life. And so, I find myself praying for you that you will be gracious to yourself--that is, extend to yourself the grace that you would extend to others. that you will accept your own wisdom. Peace pressed down and overflowing i send to you.

Shammickite said...

The tree had a special connection to your husband, and to your whole family, and the fact that the tree fell on the day your husband left home brought you back to your home in Georgia. Be gentle with yourself, do not be sad, be brave and love life.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Another sad step in this illness … You're being so brave.

Marie-Anne said...

Je n'avais pas lu cet article plus tôt. Désolée de lire que l'état de ton époux s'est aggravé et qu'il est partit en maison de soins.
Quelle coincidence que son arbre préféré soit tombé au même moment!
Dommage aussi pour le figuier! A propos, j'ai fait de la confiture de figues aujourd'hui!!!
Bises et bon courage!

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