“And great was the fall of it … ”


The fall of what? Well, it depends on whether you were searching the Holy Bible or some other literature. “It” could refer to the house built on sand as recorded in the gospel of Matthew. Or “it” could be the fall of the world power Atlantis in the distant past when a sudden cataclysm wiped it off the earth.

Or, more to the vernacular, “it” could refer to a certain specimen sycamore tree in the eastern part of Paris, Tenn., some few weeks ago when lumberjacks first pieced it down from the 100-foot top then sawed through the massive base and the towering bole fell with a reverberating shudder, sort of like a mini earthquake.

And great was the fall of it.  

Good riddance. 

You’ve heard me refer a number of times to the most significant gardening mistake I have made in all of the 46 years we have resided on East Blythe Street, in the form of a spindly sprout of a sycamore I dug from the woods some 35 years or more ago and planted on our west side. The ostensible goal was for the tree to provide welcome shade from the broiling summer sun two months or more either side of the June solstice. 

It wasn’t many years before it dutifully began to achieve one of its purposes in life, the mentioned shade. It shortly began, also, to exude assorted dead sticks, numerous leaves the size of grocery sacks, shards of loosened bark, and seed balls that exploded into thousands of seeds every fall, more than 100% of which germinated in every nook and cranny of our lot, including sidewalk cracks and any gravel surfaces.  

The misery continued every year up until the mentioned few weeks ago when the woodmen did not spare the tree, which fulfilled my fervent wish, even this late in life. Yes, sycamores are beautiful trees way, way out in the countryside when they make for a striking sight with chalk white bark visible for quite a distance. Mine had that too, but it wasn’t a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the downside of misery in the form of agonizing work it caused me cleaning up after the wretched thing virtually 12 months of the year. 

And great was the fall of it. Hooray. 

Yes, there is a huge hole in the sky, and, yes, the summer sun will stream through it from now on, that is, the rest of my life. 

There is air conditioning, after all, and a brown body doesn’t mean as much to me as it did when I was showing off my diving skills in front of sunbathing girls at Shady Nook swimming pool, ironically on the same street I live on now, but a half mile away. 

Yes, I will suffer from the radiation of the summer sun for a few months every year, but, heck, I don’t stay out in it at noontide any more like mad dogs and Englishmen do. It is said sycamore wood makes up into dandy butcher blocks. Well, the butchers can have mine, which had trunk enough for a number of blocks. 

The nasty, wretched, crappy, horrible, problematic, troublesome, rotten, despicable, excuse of a shade tree is gone. 

And great was the fall of it. 

Hallelujah and amen.


Last call. Don’t miss the fall bulb sale at the library on West Washington Street next week. It runs Monday through Oct. 24 and will offer many types of bulbs not available elsewhere. All are in the daffodil family and will prove trouble-free for years to come. 


JIMMY WILLIAMS is the garden writer for The Post-Intelligencer, where he can be contacted on Monday mornings at 642-1162.

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