A black walnut tree sits on the lot of the Linus Doll home on Mason Street in Fond du Lac.
Just recently, as I was driving on North Peters Avenue and approaching West Johnson Street, for a fleeting moment, I had a funny feeling that I didn't know where I was. Something was different from when I was here just the day before. Then it hit me, the trees on Peters and Johnson Streets were gone.
The first thing that came to mind was, "Why would anyone cut down all those wonderful trees?" So I asked one of the tellers at Chase Bank branch office, "What is going on?" The story I received was that new management at Forest Mall decided that the trees were blocking the view of the stores in the mall. If that truly is the reason the trees were removed, then all I can say is that one has to be blind to not be able to see those stores.
And that brings me to a special tree, very dear to me with some history, a couple of stories and one quite funny.
Let's go back to the very early 1950s. When I constructed our home in 1950, I attached to the house a rear porch that was about three feet or so off the ground. It was a perfect place for me to store our garbage cans so they weren't out in the open. One day as I was taking something out to put in one of the cans, I noticed something, about three inches high, growing under the porch. First impression was just another weed, but after closer scrutiny, I wondered what it was as I had not ever seen anything quite like it. Curiosity got the better of me so I took a small hand trowel and gently dug up the root, and to my surprise I dug up a cracked open black walnut with a tree growing out of it. Most people would just toss it into the garbage and forget it. But what prompted me to plant it in the ground, about three feet back from our rear lot line, I'll never really know. But, wow, did it ever grow.
Today, that trees branches extend over four different properties, I estimate it to be 60 feet tall and I did measure the width of it's branches to extend 89 feet. The main trunk has a circumference of over 11 feet. The trunk itself is only about three feet high but it was three huge branches that are as big as most main tree trunks. Not bad for a tree about 61 or 62 years old.
Over the years, I have had a tree trimmer come and thin out some of it's branches, remove any dead wood and give it some air. To do this, they actually had to climb up in the tree, use ropes and a saddle, and with a chain saw, cut out the targeted wood. Now it just so happens that the power line to my home goes right through those branches and when he got near to the power line, he started laughing. Standing under the tree, we wondered what he was laughing about, and when he cleared some branches away from the power line, we too had to laugh.
Here was a squirrel, dead, hanging on the power line by his teeth and one front paw that was caught in the twisted power line. What caused his demise we will never know but the assumption is that his foot got caught in the wires and he tried to chew his way out and got electrocuted. The wind finally blew him down.
While giving me the much needed and only shade on the south side of my home, this majestic tree has it's drawbacks. In the fall of the year, it drops a mountain of leaves and twigs, and every other year, it drops bushel after bushel of huge black walnuts. Those critters have to be picked up every day and I learned not to mow the lawn until they are all safely in five gallon pails and headed for the city compost pile.
So what has started as a nut buried under my back porch has turned into a monster tree that some day will become lumber to be made into perhaps lovely furniture or whatever. Little did I realize that Mother Nature could make something like this out of a nut.