A Fall Family Feud Over Trees

The trees have been gorgeous this autumn in Kansas City. I can’t say it’s been the best year I remember for fall colors, but it must be among the top five. The turning leaves have been so bright that if I were a painter—and I am most decidedly not a painter—I would have to start with a base layer of neon yellows, oranges, and even pinks to show the luminescence of the trees this year.

A friend posted on Facebook a photograph of a wall in her apartment, tinted orange from the reflected colors of the leaves through her window. The room in which I write also has a wall glowing yellow and orange because of sunlight shining through leaves outside my window.

Or my wall used to glow, until the tree leaves fell in the strong winds we had last week. We are now past the prime of our autumn foliage.

Now we have the mess.

Our towering bald cypress tree

Our towering bald cypress tree

Shortly after my husband and I moved into our current home, we planted two trees in our front yard—a magnolia tree that I chose, and a bald cypress tree that he really wanted.

Bald cypress trees are native to Missouri. I was familiar with the lovely windswept cypress trees of Point Lobos in California, the ones you see on the golf courses along Seventeen Mile Drive in Pacific Grove.

Bald cypress trees are nothing like the California cypress. They drop their needles, and the needles are so acidic that they kill the grass beneath the tree if they are not raked up quickly.

Our bald cypress when the needles turn

Our bald cypress when the needles turn

I hate our bald cypress tree with a passion. It is the messiest tree I’ve ever seen. And it usually works out that my husband is too busy to rake when the cypress needles fall.

Some evergreens in our yard have died from spider mites, and the ash tree in the parkway in front of our house shows signs of emerald ash borers. The magnolia tree I love is confused each year by warm days in January and snowstorms in March. But our bald cypress unfortunately is prodigiously healthy, as one would expect of a sturdy native.

The tree was not as tall as our garage when we planted it. A quarter century later it now towers over our two-story house and over every other tree in the neighborhood. It’s not a bad shape, and I could like it, except that I know that every fall it will require frequent raking to keep my yard alive.

The mess when the bald cypress needles fall

The mess when the bald cypress needles fall

The neighbors hate it, too, because the droppings scatter across the yards up or down the block, depending on which way the wind blows.

Each fall I am inclined to take an axe to the bald cypress. But my husband loves the tree, and so it remains.

What household objects cause dissension in your home?

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  1. Our bone of contention is a sycamore tree beside the patio. My husband says, “It’s coming down.” I say, “Over my dead body.” I like to write in the summer under its shady branches.

    If I go first, I’m sure my husband will have it cut to the ground within days.

    We have an oak at the back of the yard. Vic brought it home when I asked for a lilac bush.

    “That doesn’t look like a lilac bush to me,” I said as he plopped it in the hole.

    “It was in the lilac section, so it’s a lilac bush,” he said as he tamped the soil around it.

    Our ninety-year-old neighbor hates them both. The sycamore for the eighteen inch leaves that land in her yard and the oak because it’s stunting the growth of her pine tree.

    Sometimes you just can’t win for losing!

  2. Despite the mess, I think I have to side with your husband. The bald cypress is beautiful in bloom. While reading this post, I couldn’t help but think about the show, H.R. Pufnsnuf, with the mean talking trees.

  3. My magnolia is confused again. The last of its leaves were blown away today. And now I can see new buds at the tips of the branches. Surely they will not survive to bloom with these chilly November mornings.

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