During one of last weeks' storms a large branch split off of this tree. You can see the split in the upper right of the picture.
I'm pretty sure it's a boxelder tree, in spite of the lack of boxelder bugs hanging around it. It has the triple leaves that look like poison ivy. It has weak wood. Both of those are typical boxelder traits.
It also has a hollow trunk, which is sort of cool looking:
When we first moved into this house it had a huge branch arching over our lawn that looked like it could possibly fall and damage something (like, say, a child) so we had it taken down by some tree guys (you know, the guys that show up in your neighborhood in a truck and ask if you have any trees you want trimmed or taken down -- they also have firewood and mulch). It turned out the branch was full of ancient honeycomb. No honey left, but it was really interesting to see. Plus it was interesting to burn in the fireplace since the bits of comb clung to the wood.
Anyway, the tree has just been sort of hanging around there in the back corner for the past few years minding its own business, doing its tree-thing (produce leaves, change leaf color, drop leaves, support squirrel nests). But during last Monday's storm a large forked branch split off and came cartwheeling down, shaving off the pine next to it:
Okay, it didn't shave off the top missing branches. Or maybe it did. Who knows. Those top remaining branches are awfully high up. The pine is down a hill from our 2 story house, and the top branches are up above the roof line.
So, the whole pile of branches (pine and boxelder) landed in a mass of honesuckle, forsythia, and other shrubbery. And my first thought was along the lines of, "crap, it's going to take forever to get a crew out here to clean this up, what with all the storm damage from this storm and the tornado earlier and all." So we grabbed clippers and started cleaning up what we could, filling leaf bags
We had at least this many, or more, bags that went out to the curb last week. Just clipping away at all those little tree branches, clipping them into little bits. By the way, the exact same muscles are used for the large clippers that are used for opening the sliding glass door -- wow, I was so sore after that first night that I could barely open the door.
But gradually we got stuff cleared up. A neighbor loaned us his chainsaw, which Thalia learned how to use. Rick also used the Sawzall. And we even dragged out one of the other saws (the one you use to cut miters -- I can't remember what it's called, but you drop the round blade down on whatever you're cutting and SHAZAAM it's cut through). Much of the boxelder wood ended up in the woodpile where the big stuff will season for a year; the woodpile is now about 75% boxelder. The little stuff we'll probably use in the outdoor fire pit.
Annabeth asked that we keep a remnant of the branch to sit on back there.
This used to be solid greenery. Annabeth thinks we should make a little bower here. Mostly I think it looks so weirdly bare, like shaving a dog in the early summer.
Waxing philosophical, I was going on about how this has been a good example of how you can deal with the huge messes life hands you -- you just plunge in with your little clippers and start chipping away at the problem every day, and eventually ...
"Yeah, then someone comes along and hands you a chainsaw," observed Thalia. Um, yeah. Sort of.