Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of trees have died in spring storms this year, from dramatically powerful wind bursts, tornadoes, or drowning or uprooting in floods. We lost only a small branch from our greatest red oak, but locally we lost hundred-year-old eastern red cedars, sizable live oaks, and dozens of hackberries (good riddance in most cases there!).
P. Z. Myers lost a massive branch from an even more massive weeping willow, up in Morris, Minnesota. In fear of the entire tree crashing down, with some sadness Myers had the tree removed. Willows are pretty trees in full health, but they are generally soft wood and a mess to have in an average yard. That the Myers willow grew so large is probably rare among willows. We should mourn such losses.
Trees are great things, providing us with shade and cooler microclimates in the summer, windbreaks, beauty in autumn and winter, sinks for our pollution, habitat for birds, etc., etc. I couldn’t help but think of Myers’ tree when I stumbled on this children’s book Regarding the Trees: A splintered saga rooted in secrets. The cover shows what must be a willow, under which a hundred people enjoy a grand party (click the image for a larger view from Amazon.com).