Retiring the Old Guard
Today was a very interesting day at the plantation. I woke bright and early so I could get ready for the contractors to come in. First thing in the morning, I like to open the front and back Grand Hallway doors so people know I am up and here. As I opened the front door, I was greeted by Jasper and his family. They were up close to the front porch and I had to stand there and watch for a few minutes as they hopped around the yard eating the sweet grass.
I headed back to the kitchen to get my breakfast ready. I was surprise to see our deer standing by the wooded area eating. I have seen her every evening either there or back near the front gate. But I had never seen her in the morning. It was a nice surprise. So off I went cooking myself a quick breakfast.
As I moved around the kitchen, something darted pass the window near where the deer was feeding. I didn’t catch what it was so I moved over to the window. What a surprise I had! There standing next to their mother were twin fawns! It was the first time we have ever seen them. They were chasing each other and kicking up their heels. It was so precious!
After breakfast, the contractors started arriving. We have had the handyman contractor here all week. His team has done an amazing job and is making good progress. We also had two volunteers here today. Terri and her son Nick came up from Richmond to lend a hand. Nick got out in the front and helped me transfer a plant from our front entry bed to the caretaker’s house. Terri helped Nick and also helped me clean some appliances in the kitchen. With my broken finger, it is a little harder to do things with water or dirt. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all that they did for me today!
Around 11am, MOTS Tree service arrived. You may remember them from our three trees that had to be cut down about a month or so ago. Matthew and his team did a wonderful job for us the first time. So when we knew that we had to take another tree down, they were who we wanted. I just love how Matthew takes the time to explain things to me and how sensitive he is to my desire to preserve the wood.
The tree that we had to cut down today was one that was located on the north Riverside of the Mansion. It became very apparent that it was no longer alive. While all the other trees have filled with their beautiful spring foliage, this Maple has stood bare. So with a heavy heart, we scheduled MOTS to come out.
As they set up for the cutting, Terri, Nick and I watched from the back portico. They tied a line to one of the upper limbs and attached it to their truck. Then they pulled the line tight. This was to help bring down the tree where they wanted it. It was located between a line of trees on the bluff and the Mansion, so placement was very important.
Once the line was in place, they started cutting.
It took all of maybe five minutes for them to complete the cuts and bring down the tree.
It still amazes me the sound of the tree hitting the ground. It just sounds so massive. I had told Terri earlier that I wouldn’t cry this time. I knew it was dead and I worried that it might fall during some of these storms we have had lately and possible hit the house. So bring it down was a good thing. Still…. after that sound of it hitting the ground, the tears flowed. I don’t know why. I guess it’s because I have come to love this plantation so much. It’s like someone taking something so special away from it. Terri gave me hugs and I was better.
Unlike the last time, we asked MOTS to clear the wood, grind the stump and remove the mulch. Last time, we cleared the wood and mulch. It took us four weeks with the help of some wonderful volunteers. This time, they had the wood cleared, the stump grinded down and the mulch removed within hours. It was wonderful! I have to say there is something about letting the professionals handle it. It was much better not having to face that pile again.
Before they started removing the wood, Terri pointed something wonderful out. The base of the tree where they cut it lay exposed after it fell. I came over to see if I could see the rings to figure its age. It is about 60 years old. That means it started growing in the 1950s.
But Terri pointed one thing out to me that I missed….
The base of the tree was shaped like a heart.
After she pointed it out, my heart broke again.
Not too long after, they finished cleaning up, packed up and left. Looking at the space where this wonderful old guard stood, you would never know that it was there. All that is left is a space of dirt. We held on to two pieces that we will place in the artifact boxes. We want to remember this tree. One that stood guard over this Mansion and the family that lived there deserves at least that.
To see more pictures of the trees of Belle Grove
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