When my mom and dad first came to town, they bought a new house in a new subdivision, right in time for them to start raising a family.
One of the trees they purchased to landscape their new yard was a Colorado Blue Spruce.
These evergreens feature lovely silvery, blue-green needles and reach heights of about 100 feet. Their cones are concentrated in the upper branches. New growth in spring is soft; as the seasons progress, the needles become more spiky.
When my folks prepared to move to a new house, they promptly dug the still-small spruce up — root ball and all — and insisted it come along, too. This, despite most people’s opinion that moving an established tree would kill it.
But our tree must have liked its new home, for it not only grew but thrived.
Birds hopped and sang on its branches. Squirrels and rabbits darted underneath it for cover.
It was especially beautiful in the winter months, when snow clung to its limbs and we’d decorate it with Christmas lights — that is, until it got so tall we couldn’t reach the top any more!
The past few years, however, were rough ones for trees of this species. Little by little, we watched our tree’s needles drop (and not grow back). It became scraggly and tired, almost as if it had given up on life.
We consulted an expert, who said the tree had some kind of fungus. He said he could spray it a few times and, if we watered it heavily, it might survive.
Expensive, with no guarantees.
Another local service assured us the tree was dying and wouldn’t pull out of its funk. He said he’d seen trees all over town like ours that had become infected with the fungus and had to be removed.
It’s up to you, he said.
Then we started noticing similar spruces. A neighbor has one that looks as if it got caught in a forest fire; another neighbor cut his tree’s bottom branches as high as he could reach in an effort to remove the dried twigs and stop the fungus from spreading.
Ultimately, we decided to put our blue spruce out of its misery. One day, I took the Sheltie for a walk and by the time I returned, the tree was gone.
Not that it was a long walk. They were just that fast.
Probably sensed how attached we were to the tree. How hard it was going to be to part with it.
We’re trying to grow grass over the bare spot now, but the house still looks odd without that shock of blue. What is it about a tree that evokes such strong feelings in us?