From stately old tree to wood chips…that’s what happened to “Old Creaky,” the huge silver maple in our back yard. Our neighbor Andrew, together with his wife Melissa, gave the tree that nickname because they could hear it groaning during windstorms. They worried about the several tree-sized branches leaning out over their property.

Last spring, one limb fell on the wires from our house to the utility pole, knocking out power for three homes. The downed wires were draped over the fence between our house and Andrew’s, preventing him from using his garage. We all breathed a sigh of relief when the power company finally sent a crew out to fix the problem.

But what to do about a long-term solution? Al contacted a company and arranged for someone to look at the tree to see if only the big branches over Andrew’s garage should be removed or if the whole tree needed to go. The tree expert advised to cut Old Creaky down. 

This was no easy task! It required a lot of equipment, much more than I had imagined: a truck with a cherry picker that could go up about 40 feet; one with a crane designed for lifting heavy things; a covered truck with high wooden sides; a wood chipper; and a trailer for hauling the logs away. 

A man wielding a chainsaw sat in the cherry picker, high in the upper branches of the maple tree. Another fellow then used a remote control to direct the arm of the crane up toward the cherry picker, so that the first man could fasten the cable attached to a strong metal hook on the crane around the section to be cut. Once it had been sawed, the crane would swing it between the two houses, dropping it onto Andrew’s driveway, where a third worker fed it into the wood chipper. 

There was a steady hum of engines and a stream of chips flowing into the back of the covered truck all day long. The tree was gradually diminished in size until only the trunk remained. The same approach was used on the massive trunk, only now the man with the chainsaw stood on a ladder and let the heavy pieces fall to the ground. Then they were attached to the cable on the crane, hoisted over the fence and placed side by side on the trailer. It was all very impressive!

When the job was finished, all that remained of Old Creaky was a stump about one foot high and three feet across at its widest point, and the pictures Al had taken to document the whole process. The stump didn’t remain long though. It was chewed up by a stump grinding machine a few days later. Except for an occasional knobby root sticking out of the ground and a thick layer of sawdust, it was hard to tell that there had been a tree in that corner of the yard. 

Several decades of growth gone in a couple of days! It was sad in a way. But Old Creaky left behind seeds, multitudes of small winged seeds all over the yard, sending long tap roots down into the soil and little green shoots upward toward the sun. If we ever want more silver maples…

It’s also sad to watch once youthful, active bodies grow frail and bent over, to see a lifetime of experiences and accomplishments gone in a flash. So what can we leave behind? Seeds! Seeds of faith, hope, encouragement, truth and love planted in the lives of others; good seeds that will help people grow in their relationship to Jesus Christ and influence them to make a positive difference in the world. Use us Lord!

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” — Psalm 1:1-3 NIV


Judy Lowery lives in Michigan. The Good News column appears regularly in The Porterville Recorder. You can read more at Judy’s blog,

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