I live in one of those subdivisions that has approximately three different house styles.

It’s an older subdivision, built in the 60’s or 70’s, with the trees to match. I love those trees. In the winter, as the new-fallen snow is caught by the branches, they create something as close to a Norman Rockwell painting as someone like me is gonna get. In the spring, the new buds and fresh leaves remind me that winter, like anything else, doesn’t last forever. In the summer, the curtain of leaves, nearly meeting in the middle of the road, make me giddy with happyness. In the fall, those leaves change to all of the brightest shades of red and orange, a stark contrast against the impossibly blue sky.

Last year, after a particularly riveting night in the ER with a case of Orbital Cellulitis, I blurrily got the mail as we got back home at five in the morning. In it, there was a piece of mail from our city, stating that there was something called the Emerald Ash Boner. Before I went to bed for the first time in twenty-four hours, I chucked heartily that there was an infestation of Boners in my town.

I hadn’t considered that the tree I loved so dearly, sweetly shading my house and occasionally dumping gigantic branches onto my lilacs, was an Ash Tree. In fact, I’d considered that a particularly stupid name for a tree (when I discovered it was, indeed, an Ash Tree) and vowed to make someone somewhere change it to the Ass Tree. It seemed more fitting.

For the next year, I watched in horror as the trees up and down the sides of my road – all Ass Trees – were marked with a hastily spray-painted purple dot. Purple dot = infected. Which isn’t entirely unlike herpes, I suppose.

Every week, I inspected my Ass Tree for that tell-tale purple dot, knowing that my Ass Tree was probably superior to all other Ass Trees and would therefore be immune the Emerald Ass Boner. Clearly.

Three weeks ago, I came home to see the dot. On my precious Ass Tree. The Boner had struck.

Purple Dot of Doom = tree infected = cut down.

Soon, my favorite Ass Tree will be cut down and replaced with a tiny new tree, so small that I’ll neatly be able to fit my hand around it. Certainly, I’ll watch the tree grow and turn into a non-Ass Tree (I think we’re getting maples instead). I’ll happily celebrate the day it grows large enough to provide shade and again when it’s branches are large enough to support the weight of my smallest child. I know there will be lemonade stands underneath it, the new tree will oversee the tending of my rose bed, and it will, someday, shade me with it’s leaves.

But that doesn’t stop me from feeling sad about my very own Ass Tree, who will soon enough, be reduced to a pile of stumps.


It even happens to Ass Trees.


In other news, I have two columns up at The Stir. Please report back to tell me if the comments are hateful. Actually, don’t. I don’t want to know:

Reason Number Eleventy-Five Being A Kid Today Sucks


7 Reasons Your Kid’s Summer Birthday Sucks

Also, here: Puberty. UGH.

25 thoughts on “Change Or Something Like It

  1. Well said, Aunt Becky, very well said. I’m glad you can see the possibilities of lemonade stands in the future, its hard to see past the stump. Don’t know if I could see it, glad you can- try and keep your focus where you know it needs to be. -hugs-

  2. Did it really say Boner? 🙂 That is hilarious since it’s Borer. Invasive bugs really suck. Blame it on all the imported tires (water in the wells) and granite counter tops (wood packing) 🙁 Now I am depressed.

  3. I have an Ass Tree in my front yard. It is huge (almost 40 years old). The cicadas love it too. So do my hostas. I am so not looking forward to the Purple Dots when they reach central Iowa.

  4. If you have *any* say at all about what kind of maple tree they give you, do NOT get a silver maple. We have two such monstrosities in our yard – one in front and one in back – and they are total PITAs two seasons out of the year (and they drop sticks – BIG sticks, as in “too big to just chomp with the mower so you have to go around and pick them all up and drag them to the curb” big – four seasons a year). First, it is the “helicopter” seeds that go *everywhere* – your gutter, all over your car, in your pachysandra….. then in the fall, well, let me just say there’s a reason I’ve named the trees Leafy Bastard One and Two.

    So, while there are many perfectly lovely maples, silver ain’t one of them.

  5. D’oh! That sucks, most of the neighborhoods in the part of Phx I live in were built no more than like 10 years ago so all we have at the moment are the little baby trees that still need to be staked up. I miss the real trees and soft grass of Chicago, although my cactus’ in my front yard did bloom this year so yay for that.

  6. I live on a street much like that! When I decided to get my house ready to put on the market a few months ago, I stared up the street toward the park and the lake. I noticed that there was not a speck of sunlight breaking through the canopy except a small circle in the middle of each intersection. I doubt very much I will ever find a piece of property when we move that will give me that same tranquil feeling of “neighborhood”. It says quietly, “Families live here. Come ride your bikes. Play at our park. It’s safe here and it’s home.”

    Your ass tree isn’t my ass tree and I miss it already FOR you!

  7. Who came up with the names for these tree diseases? I’m going to ask my husband, the tree surgeon. I’ll inform him that he should have some pull with the elusive, magical tree people to get the ash tree officially renamed.

  8. Dear Auntie,
    I’m very saddened about the demise of your beloved tree. I, too, love trees. Your description of your street reminds me of Moana Street in Laie, Hawaii. I doubt that the trees there are Ash trees, but, they join from either side of the street to form a canopy, and it’s lovely.

    If you have any say in the matter, get a Sycamore tree if sycamores thrive in your climate and soil. They’re lovely.


  9. P.S. The houses on Moana Street in Laie, Hawaii, look like slums that were erected in fifteen minutes or less by colorblind ditchbank Okies to protect their families from the dust of the Dustbowl, but that’s a subject for another day. The trees, as I told you earlier, are lovely.

  10. P.P.S. I don’t think your advice column is crappy. Your advice is much more savvy and practical than was that of either the late (may she rest in peace) Esther Pauline Friedman Lederer (Ann Landers) or her twin sister (the possibly late, in which case may she, too, rest in peace, although chances are slim that things are peaceful where she is if she ended up in the same place as her twin sister, because they couldn’t stand the sight of one another) Pauline Esther Friedman Phillips (Dear Abby) or her twin’s sister’s daughter Jeanne Phillips (the current alterego of Dear Abby).

  11. I feel your pain. One of the reason that we BOUGHT our house in the first place was the “tree-lined corner lot” that was advertised by the previous owner. Much to our surprise, the following spring all the trees along the road were removed because someone in an office that had never laid eyes on them decided that they were growing too close to the power lines. They replaced six healthy mature trees with two scrawney (and messy!) crabapple trees. Only one remains … ugly and lonely and not growing very fast. Don’t let them give you crappy crabapple trees. They suck.

  12. We have the same situation EXCEPT we don’t live on a beautiful, tree-lined street. We live on an acre plus WOODED lot. And the wood? Ass trees. With the boner beatle. We (meaning “my husband”) have spent nearly every weekend either cutting down dead trees, cutting up almost dead trees that have fallen dangerously close to our/the neighbor’s house, or burning. Wanna come over for a bon(er)fire? We can roast weenies!

  13. I fear my tree has some sort of disease as well, except its a paper birch tree. Not sure where the paper comes from? Maybe when they cut it down I’ll get some scratch paper. =/

  14. That was hilarious as usual! I did not know that you could do that to an eye. huh.
    I ddont even want to know when you had time to write this! You rock!

  15. Around here, we have purple triangular hangy downy box thinys in our Ass trees. They are traps (I think?) for that Ass Boner bastard. I’m sorry about the purple dot in front of your house. I wish it had been a purple lollipop instead.

  16. I’m always sad hearing about trees having to be cut down. The idea of living without big trees is just icky to me. I live under 60 year old elms and we’re having a similar problem with them. We’ve gone from the largest urban elm forest in the country to the 3rd. Part of the problem is that cities tend to use the same trees across the board so tree specific problems spread like wildfire. What our city is doing, is every time an elm has to be removed, they plant a different variety of tree; alternating oaks with maples, with ash ect. so that in the future no one blight will be able to do the damage Dutch Elm Disease is doing now. Maybe petition the city to introduce some variety in their trees rather than leaving themselves open to the same problem.

  17. I grew up with the dreaded summer birthday, and did my daughter the favor of giving her one too.

    I had gotten accustomed to having to invite a ton of kids just to get a handful to show, so I let her get a little happy with the guest list this year.

    And that’s why I got burned by having 18 children between the ages of 6-10 arrive at my house this year. With that many kids you have to keep them all entertained or they mutiny. Thank goodness for friends and booze – the most important tools for surviving the birthday party.

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