I’ll own up to this one. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with trees since I moved to Michigan 28 years ago. Before moving to this tree stuffed state, I never thought about trees much. The last Michigan tree to human census taken totaled 5,691 trees to 1 person. They’re everywhere. Except at Lake Michigan. What a relief. The only place I can really breathe.
|Lake Michigan on a very windy day…|
Still, one of my favorite views in the world has to do with trees. Wouldn’t ‘ya know? When I walk up the steep hill on 2nd Street, I see the tops of approximately 2.127 million trees against Michigan’s startling, exotic blue sky. My favorite color combo-bar none. It’s not that I dislike trees. I just don’t like when they hinder any part of my view. Except the tree tops to sky shot.
|Freaky country roads. Have you never heard of the word TRIM…|
I’m telling you, some of the country roads around here are plain creepy. Trees on both sides. They scootch in a little closer to the road every day. Cue Pennywise from Stephen King’s novel, It. Where my nightmares originate.
|Yeah, no thanks Pennywise, I’ll pass…|
Nowhere have we lived thus far though compares to our house in Jackson for trees. True, our lot was an acre, but we had about 50 trees. I had to move every 10 minutes when I laid out in the sun. At least I was getting some exercise while reading and snoozing. The neighbors were aghast when John and our buddy Fred took down about half of them. Ah, the sun goddess lived to rule another day. But it was in that yard when I fell under the mysterious spell of the birch trees. I absolutely love the white bark. And how the shiny green leaves look as they sway in the breeze. We had several in the yard, but thee perfect one, smack dab in the middle of our front yard. Every summer I’d hang a hummingbird feeder in that birch. The tiny birds got so used to me being nearby, I could sit and watch them from a couple feet away.
|Perfectly centered birch tree, Jackson, Mi. 1990…|
When we moved to North Muskegon, all of our landscaping was new and small because our house was 2 years old. Twenty years later, we have a total of 4 trees. None of which are in the back yard, obstructing our view of Muskegon Lake. Two massive evergreens in the front hide the utilities and cable TV paraphernalia. Actually they were already here with another 6 pines in a very small berm. Which lasted about a year. John yanked out 5. And it was still crowded. The 2 trees we planted are on the west side of house. One’s a pretty maple but my favorite is a tri-color Beech tree. During the spring, the leaves are maroon with hot pink edges. It’s quite beautiful.
|Gorgeous Tri-colored Beech. And neighbors awful fence…|
Our neighbor west of us installed a fence from the street to their sea wall before we moved here. They also planted a weeping willow where their sea wall starts. Now really, why would anyone plant an ugly, messy, dirty tree that eliminates the beauty of living on the water? Not only for them, but on both sides too. Meaning us. Although the tree wasn’t much to look at first, it grew faster than my 2 teenage boys. We’ve had a couple of 100 mile an hour straight wind storms over the last 2 decades. My prayers have not been answered. The weeping willow lost maybe 3 leaves per storm. I was the one left weeping.
Along the west fence line near the lake, but on the east side were some ugly scrub trees that were not very big yet. Cottonwoods. But clumped together in a rather homely fashion. This empty lot and scrub trees belonged to the guy who owned our house. After 2 years in our house, they decided to build just northwest of us. Kind of behind us, but off to the side. There’s an easement in between those two lots which is why they are kind of behind us.
|20 yrs ago this was our view looking west…|
But this also meant no one would be building right next to us either. Yay. Or they would lose their nice view of the lake. When we were buying our house, we insisted on buying a few extra feet from the empty lot. Making their waterfront lot the bare minimum on which to build. At the time they mentioned taking those little ugly scrub trees down. Sigh. It never happened. Now those suckers are huge. As an added bonus we get a month long bounty of cottonball snow storms in June.
|2015 view to the west. Sigh…|
The 3 neighbors east of us, and the west weeping willow folks all had sea walls before we moved here. By not having our lot owner or the empty lot west put in sea walls at the same time was a real bummer for them. At that time the water level was very high, so windy days from the west caused our sandy beach to actually kind of undermine their sea walls. Plus it was eating away at our back yard.
|Before we put in the sea wall, 1995…|
Soon after we moved, our sprinkling system was hanging in the air near the lake in back. Ugh. We knew we had to do something. (If they had just put in our sea wall 5 years prior to us moving here, we’d have another 40 feet added to our back yard). Major bummer for us. The house due east really got the shaft by losing tons of sand. Their sea wall is steel sheeting. At the time of installation, the top of their sea wall was flush with their yard grass. Twenty years later they have an 18″ step. It’s sunk that much. So a couple years after we moved, we had several semi truck loads of sand hauled in to build up our “sliding into the lake” back yard. Followed by covering the sand with heavy felt. And tons of tons of medium sized rocks. Which I worked on for weeks. I wanted it rather level so you could walk on the top of our rock sea wall, which was a couple feet wide.
|New rock sea wall and dock, 1997…|
Of course we didn’t realize just a couple years later, Lake Michigan would plummet dangerously low, almost breaking low water level records. This was about 15 years ago. Suddenly, the bottom of our sea wall was dry land for 125 feet. A new happy home for snakes, frogs, and yup, you guessed it, more scrub trees. John would head down there twice a summer, cutting down 30 spindly tress, bushes, invasive reed thingy’s. Yuk. We stopped putting our dock out each summer. With only 100 feet of dock, we didn’t come close to hitting water yet.
|Night shot of the moon, and spindly little birch trees, 2013…|
RCG (rich crazy guy) owned the last house east of us (10,000 square feet, resembling a VFW hall, minus the liquor license). Part of his property was the point east of him which jutted out quite far and had fairly deep water. When the water levels dropped, all kinds of unwanted growth popped up on this new dry ground. He might have tried a time or 2 to tame this new forest, but his heart wasn’t in it. It was unsightly and blocked the lake views for everyone. After his bankruptcy, he moved and lost the title of RCG, becoming merely CG (crazy guy). The family who bought his little mansion started remodeling the home and the grounds. Hired workers with wild, crazy, chain saw abandon and cleared the forest point of all vegetation. Except for a cluster of about a dozen, spindly 12-15 foot birch trees. I adored that little group of trees. When I’m in my nest, it’s always in my view. And you know how often I languish here. Constantly.
|My baker’s dozen little green birch trees, 2010…|
Each time I take a picture of a sunrise, or a 1000 foot tanker gliding by, most of the pictures include my (yeah, I got some ownership issues) little cluster of birch trees. Friends of ours thought it was very rude. Living on a lake with the audacity to let trees compromise our lake views. Why I have issues with my non-west views, but no problem with my east views has not yet been answered in my weird head.
|Sunrise over the birch trees…|
One of my all time favorite pictures is that little clump of birch trees. But I did not have my iPad yet. Only my hopeless smart ass phone. It was probably mid-September, 2012. I looked up from my nest, and there it was. My baker’s dozen clump of little birch trees. With a total of at least 10 different colors. It was stunning. The picture lost something after I reproduced it. Last fall I was determined to get a good picture of the fall color change. Didn’t happen. And it took me until this spring to figure out the reason why.
|Birch trees showing an awesome array of fall colors, 2012…|
It’s the water. A couple years go, the water level started rising again. All of the Great Lakes are on the rise again. Yay. Good news for folks who had their boats moored 200 feet farther in the water than their docks reached. Our rising water started out with a couple little puddles here and there near our sea wall. Last summer the water was about a foot deep. This year it’s double that or more. Meaning all my little birch trees are drowning. Half of them didn’t sprout more than a handful of leaves this spring. The remaining spindly few got leaves that resemble October instead of the first of July. First time I’ve ever felt bad about losing .000000000000000001 percent of Michigan’s tree population…
|Clump of birch are drowning after water levels rose, 2015…|