It was sprinkling rain. But when I pointed that out to Charles (as if perhaps he hadn’t noticed the dampness on his back) he said it was keeping him cool! The big goal of the day was to succeed in digging at least one of the two huge dogwood stumps out of the ground and carry it away. Ulysses was here to help and the two men were taking turns chopping, digging, pounding away on roots that were so hard the mattock bounced back from every lick.
Charles and I had made the decision to cut the trees down last summer realizing that they were more dead than alive. It was really hot then. Charles said he’d wait until winter to dig the stumps out. Here it is nearly the end of February and he hasn’t found a truly winter day to work on those stumps. So this rainy dark morning would have to suffice!
After digging for a while and exposing several roots, Charles positioned the truck for pulling them out with a chain fastened to his trailer hitch. Ulysses attached the chain to a muddy stubborn root, Charles pulled forward slowly and out came the root to be thrown into the waiting wheelbarrow.
When I took my knitting (which seemed a nice job for a rainy morning) to the living room, I could hear the men calling to each other: “Whoa, Doc! OK, move up a little” or “Whoopee, there she comes!” or “Snub your chain tighter, Ulysses, we’ll try her again.” (Have you noticed that when men are working, any hard and stubborn thing is called a “she”?)
The wheelbarrow was getting full and there was a deep, wide hole now where the stump still presided.
Of course we’d rather by far have the two beautiful dogwoods on either side of our front yard blooming like white angels in March and April. But the dogwoods have been struck by Dogwood Anthracose (caused by Discula destructive), a disease first identified, I believe, in New York in the 1970’s and creeping since then steadily south through the Appalachian mountains and down the eastern seaboard. We were so hoping maybe the disease wouldn’t get this far, but here it is. Dogwoods until recently brightened our yards and woodlands with white blossoms in the spring and brilliant red berries and leaves in the fall. But now more and more of them have turned to stark leafless silhouettes.
So here we were making a war on dogwood stumps that were wide enough on which to serve a small teaparty. But, Charles declared, these stumps only have lateral roots, no taproot. “We will whip one at least by noon,” he said.
Sure enough, well before noon, I heard a shout and hurried to the door. The stump was out! I went down to take pictures, wiping raindrops from my iPad. The great spidery lump of a stump rolled and bounced behind the truck as Charles pulled it to the debris pile.
Stump #1 was out and where it came from was a gaping hole. After they filled the canyon in, only a bare spot remained. Charles will tease the grass back over that with his patient sprigging. I closed my eyes and tried to picture the lawn as it had been when those two beautiful dogwoods offered their gracious shade in the summer, their color in fall and winter, and their display of white in the spring.
Somehow, the following verses from Psalm 103:15-17 come to mind:
The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children.