The Weeping Willow.

We’ve had a very hot Summer here in Southeast Michigan. I could wow you with lots of stats, but I’ll keep it simple … we have had three times as many hot, (as in over 90F/32C), days this year. I say this year, because we had a handful of sultry days before Summer even arrived on the calendar.

The weather has worn me down.

It seems Mother Nature has had a bee in her bonnet for a while now.

As I get in my steps on these hot and humid mornings, I often wonder aloud “did we have scorching hot days back in the day, like we’ve endured this Summer of 2020, or is this really the result of global warning?” I concede, yes it was hot, but perhaps we were so engrossed in doing fun things with our friends that we never noticed the heat and humidity that we often grumble about in adulthood. It has seemed like an endless stretch of weather warnings and much angst over worrying about a tornado or derecho or trees toppling over onto the house. I shudder when I see photos in the news of decades-old trees taking out a garage, house or car, when they are uprooted from soggy ground after a torrential rain.

Our City has a lot of old and established trees, and, as I’ve driven or walked through the neighborhoods this Summer, I have seen large tree branches scattered everywhere. Some of the branches were so large that the tree was left not only lopsided, but now dangerous and in need of being cut down. Some days I’ve gone through the ‘hood and all that remains is a pile of wood chips or sawdust, in the space where a tall and regal tree graced the homeowner’s property just a few days before.

While I am a nature lover, I’m not what you would call a “tree hugger” per se, but it does make me feel sad to see these gentle giants torn apart, their branches scattered about.

Recently I went down a side street and came upon a scene that really hurt my heart. Wow! Not only did I see a tree ravaged by Mother Nature, but this was a tree I could identify with. My mind quickly flashed back to Summertime, circa 1966 and maybe even 1967, when I whiled away the hours at Buckingham Park with other kids from the neighborhood.

I last visited this park in 2014 and wrote a post wherein I waxed nostalgic about the good times spent with my pals during Summer break from school. My post was how that park was still wearing its Winter-weary hues and the only spot of color at that venue was the majestic Willow tree that had already leafed out. I was so struck by how green this tree was amidst a still-dull landscape, that I took a photo of that Willow, which you see up top in black and white – the color version is found in the original post – you can click here if you’d care to read it.

Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end.

Well here’s the backstory about discovering the ravaged Weeping Willow tree. A couple of weeks ago, while at Council Point Park, the grass-mowing crew arrived. Well, that put an immediate kibosh on the peace and tranquility at the Park. Once the crew fires up their respective noisy mowers, the squirrels immediately hightail it to their nests and the birds likewise flee the scene. I generally hightail it as well, exiting the Park and disappearing into the ‘hood.

On that morning, for a change of pace, I meandered over to Ford Park, formerly known as Buckingham Park when I was growing up.

Our City has 22 parks altogether. That’s pretty amazing since the entire City is just a smidge over five square miles. Council Point Park is one of a kind, a cozy nature nook tucked in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Lion’s Park is similar, on a much-smaller scale, also along the Ecorse Creek but geared for disabled children to have a place to play. There are parks dedicated to Little League with few amenities and still other parks have playscapes but nothing else. There’s something for everyone.

But back in the 60s, there was no better place for kids to spend their Summer vacation days than a daily trip to Buckingham Park.

Right after breakfast, just like clockwork, the three girls down the street arrived at my driveway and would call out my name. I’d go out and open the garage to get my bike and off we’d go. We could have walked – it was not far away, but our bikes were our “wheels” back then, a means to whisk us away from the street to wherever we wished to go. My bike was blue with white fenders and I had a snazzy white wicker basket adorned with flowers. I’d toss my brown bag lunch in there and off we went.

It seemed as though this Willow Tree was weeping.

Willow trees are majestic and graceful and may grow as tall as 50 feet, their slender branches and thin, lime-green leaves sweeping the ground … like this.

Weeping Willows can live as long as 75 years if they are located in a spot where they are able to grow tall and wide, with roots stretching endlessly underground. While I walked around the sad remains of this gentle giant, I felt sad.

I spoke to a neighbor who saw me taking photos and together we were tsk-tsking over the fate of this beautiful Willow. I told him my history at the park and he said the tree’s demise was not due exclusively to the volatile weather and high winds, but it was running with ants.

So, I made it a point to take some photos up close of the ant damage, even though I knew what it would look like. We lost two tall Oak trees in the backyard and a beautiful Honey Locust out front, all the result of the ravage of Carpenter Ants. They are destructive insects that chew, but do not eat, the wood. They then tunnel through the tree to make nests. The empty tunnels create instability in the tree trunk and branches, until one day a stiff wind will cause the tree to snap.

Here, have a look at the damaged wood that is exposed. You can see the tunnels from the Carpenter Ants in these shots.

I stepped around to the other side of the tree with a different view of the damage the Carpenter ants had wreaked on the Willow; I saw a huge swath of bare wood and a broken branch hanging perilously off the tree.

In recent years, after my 2014 photo, a perimeter bench was constructed around the Willow’s trunk. You can see just how large that tree trunk was.

I meandered around the grounds, reminiscing as I went along.

Many hours were spent at Buckingham Park, either on the playground equipment or sitting cross-legged on the grass under the shade of that old Willow tree where we interacted with a college-aged girl, whose Summer job was to engage our young minds with fun activities like games and various crafts. It was like a mini version of Summer Day Camp, a place to go with pals and meet other kids. Our parents never worried about us. We munched on our brown-bag lunches while we chattered away and when the park closed for the day, we returned to our respective homes in time for dinner.

The only item we paid for was supplies for crafts. It cost just a few pennies for plastic lace which we bought in various colors by the yard and was woven together to fashion lariats and keychains. We purchased our supplies through a half-door at this little building which still stands.

We climbed around on playground equipment like this pair of abstract structures, which are now faded and peeling, but remain nonetheless after all these years.

I remember thinking this one looked like Swiss cheese ….

… and this one resembled a weird-shaped pretzel.

I checked out the swing set.

I am sure this is the original metal swing set, only now it has been outfitted with baby seats, one of which was in disrepair. I remember we would swing to our heart’s content, reaching higher and higher into the sky, kicking our legs to gain momentum and dragging the toe of one white canvas “tennie” into the dirt to “brake” and come to a stop.

These are two newer playscapes – we never had something so modern back in the day.

If it was hot, we were cooling off to our knees in the shallow wading pool, which cement structure still has the sloped sides, but now serves as a rudimentary basketball court.

Famous final scene.

I have returned a few times to Ford Park since that day when I took all these photos, zigzagging from my regular route home from Council Point Park. I wanted to see if the big Willow tree had been removed, but it remains, half of a hulking giant and a sad image of its former self and yes… I do believe this Willow is weeping.

If you’re still here after this lengthy post, thanks for time-travelin’ back with me on this Throwback Thursday.

About Linda Schaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, so this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for four decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, though I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too. - Linda Schaub
This entry was posted in Memories, walk, walking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to The Weeping Willow.

  1. I always hate to see the old glorious trees struck down. We’ve had some damage but our neighborhood is about 35 years old so no old stately trees here.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, I do too and given our volatile weather and these torrential rains we’ve been having, I’m surprised there are not more trees down. This is such a shame and it has to be removed as too much of the tree is missing and there is ant damage on top of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Poor old willow tree!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, it was a beautiful tree so it’s such a shame. When I go to Elizabeth Park, there are three bridges that cross the canal that separates the Park from the mainland. There is the big bridge and two smaller, but identical bridges. The three bridges will be 100 years old in a couple of years. When they built the bridges, they planted a Willow tree at each bridge. Those trees are huge and very beautiful. They leaf out in early spring when all the other trees are still dormant.

      Like

  3. Cathy Brabant says:

    Why do so many streets and basements flood in Lincoln Park? We are lucky, but whenever we get a big rain folks post pictures of their flooded streets and basements/

    Liked by 3 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I am also amazed at those pictures Cathy. I follow two Lincoln Park neighborhood forums on Facebook and I looked on Sunday afternoon after we had the torrential rains … did you see the article on Click on Detroit? Rod Meloni came to investigate I believe Sunday afternoon and now there are people suing the City as it’s not the first time it happened. I read in the same community forum that you are likely following that the people on River Drive are dealing with flooded basements as they raised the level of Council Point Park when they turned that empty area along the Ecorse Creek into Council Point Park. They elevated the property and it messed up the people across the street. That’s the first I ever hard that story, but I have often said that I see the Creek rising with all the water after a torrential rain, yet it never floods the pathway as it’s so high up. Did you see the photo of the kids playing in the street in that water?

      Like

  4. Rebecca says:

    Sweet childhood memories! Sorry the tree was damaged. Weeping Willows are beautiful trees.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I do love those childhood memories Rebecca. We used to have such fun and never were bored the entire Summer. This Willow tree was huge back in 1966, so I wonder how old it was? I tried looking inside the split branch where I showed the ant tunnels, thinking I might be able to see rings, but I couldn’t see anything due to the ant tunnels. They sure are beautiful and graceful.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Eliza says:

    Your weather has been bugging you the past couple years….
    Love the bike!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, the weather has become volatile at times and some of that is from the heat that we’ve had … we always have hot-weather days, but not this many. We go from one day where it is oppressive and 24 hours it is chilly. Today we are experiencing late September weather! That bike came over from Canada with me. 🙂

      Like

      • Eliza says:

        I’m glad you took it along.
        Would you move later on or stay put? I know you plan on travelling after retirement so maybe you can see then.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Well Ellie, one thing I do like is security – so I feel like I don’t want to pick up and go somewhere as I’ve lived here since 1966. I don’t want to take on debt and now, in this really messed-up economy thanks to the pandemic, I’d be even leerier of doing anything and essentially starting over. I don’t have any relatives left in Canada, but don’t have any here either. I would like to travel after retirement, but wish I had done the rest of my traveling back when I got laid off and after my mom passed away. But traveling is not as easy and breezy as it was back when I traveled … and big weather issues. I just heard that there is still another heat wave in the UK and France which is as bad as last Summer. The wacky weather is a big of a drag too.

        Like

      • Eliza says:

        There is a heatwave. Maybe you can travel during winter…. like to Spain where it’s summer.
        Heatwave in England doesn’t reach heat of the US…

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Some trees look very regal and dignified after they have passed; their barren branches look of beauty. 🙂 That Willow, though, was brought down in an undignified manner by those carpenter ants. Natural entropy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, they fall and sometimes are uprooted bringing decades of roots with them – it’s amazing to see sometimes. I worry about that in the houses behind me. The trees are huge and very old and not been pruned or attended to in decades. This Willow – just wow. I’ve got to go back and see if the City has cut it down yet … the carpenter ants would not have known where to run when that big branch came down in a thud. We had carpenter ants everywhere in the two Oaks. They are huge and very destructive. We saw too many carpenter ants on the back patio and the trees looked healthy but lots of ants on the bark running around. We had an arborist come and check the Oaks out and they were full of ants so we were advised to have them taken down in case a storm damaged them and they split and fell on the house. We had the Locust taken down at the arborist’s advice – also a shame as it set the house off and was planted to replace a birch tree that got a disease years before.

      Like

  7. AnnMarie R stevens says:

    Miss Linda……………………………..first of all, you were quite an attractive young lady back then on your blue bike and long slender legs………………………………….You gave a nice eulogy of that Willow tree………………………………..did I miss something??……………………………….you are now calling Thursday’s blogs: “Throwback Thursday”?……………..I like it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Hi Ann Marie – Thank you – you make my head swell! I have been tall as long as I can remember – very odd since my parents were 5′ 3″ (father) and 5′ 2″ (mother). I towered over them by the time I got to high school. That Willow tree was a beauty and I remember it well. This park encompasses two City blocks – one is two baseball fields and the other, closer to Electric is just the park recreation area. This tree is/was old, but not as old as those Willows at the three bridges at Elizabeth Park. I decided to just throw in “Throwback Thursday” today since it had some old pictures … social media platforms are big on posting vintage photos with a title of “Throwback Thursday” or “Wayback Wednesday” or “Faraway Friday” for life back in the day (another cliche). Glad you liked it Ann Marie.

      Like

  8. Joni says:

    What lovely memories Linda…..but poor sad old tree. Is your local government in charge of cleaning up after storms, or is that all on hold due to Covid? It looks like a fair size park. Do any kids play in it now? I also enjoyed the bike picture and the song – of course I remember the song, as I have it on my 60’s Ipod playlist!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I felt badly for that tree Joni, especially having remembered those days so vividly. I think it will be the City tree cutters that will take it down. They have some City tree cutters, but most of the bigger trees they subcontract out. I’ve never seen any kids play in it now – I wonder if they still have day programs (maybe not this year due to COVID). This park stretches one City block and in the next block, also part of Ford Park, is another part of the park which is two baseball diamonds.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Michael says:

    wow so much to enjoy in there. So many great memories if tinged with sadness but that’s time I guess…unrelenting

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, it was sad to think how it looked and now split in two. Our weather has been crazy this Summer. Today it feels like late September – I like that and I hear the UK has another heat wave that rivals the last bad one.

      Like

  10. Ally Bean says:

    There’s something final about seeing a beloved old tree just gone. There may be good reasons, but it does give pause. I’m glad you have such warm memories of this park and how it played a significant part in your childhood. I don’t live where I grew up, and now I wonder what I’d find at the old haunts of my youth?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, it was a beauty, that’s for sure Ally. We spent a lot of time there enjoying crafts and games. My childhood home is in Canada. I have not seen it since the year my grandmother died (1986) and we drove to Oakville from Toronto to see the old neighborhood. They have since razed all the houses, which were not old – they were built in 1958 and we moved into the new sub in 1958 when I was two years old. It was a meadow and creek at the end of our sub, all undeveloped land, but they were building an outdoor mall on this property the Summer we moved here. I Googled the old neighborhood in Oakville – didn’t recognize the street, so I reached out to a Facebook forum of Oakville residents. The moderator was a computer tech who made house calls – he was familiar with the street, even went and took a picture of the house that was where mine stood and sent me a real estate ad – it was now a two-story home.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ally Bean says:

        How nice of that person to do that for you. The connections made via the www can be something good.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I know – I thought that was very nice of him. Sent several pics along to substantiate what he told me earlier and that realtor video. I met a childhood classmate on that same site. We kept in touch for a while, but she got off all social media due to privacy concerns. She was a hobby artist – I used some of her paintings in my posts.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Sandra J says:

    I just love willow trees, those carpenter ants did quite the number on that tree. 22 parks is just wonderful for a town. What would we do without them. Wonderful photos Linda, I like all your rhymes you added to a comment above to Ann Marie statement. You are so clever with words.
    “Throwback Thursday” or “Wayback Wednesday” or “Faraway Friday” for life back in the day (another cliche) 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      There are really beautiful old willow trees at Elizabeth Park and they are as old as the old bridges there (almost 100 years old). They are huge. I feel badly for this one. Sandra, I wish I could take credit for those witty expressions, but I got them off social media … people don’t use them as often now, but when I first joined Facebook in 2009, I would see people change their profile pictures every Thursday and call it “Throwback Thursday” … it has morphed into other phrases using old pictures of yourself and calling them “Wayback Wednesday” or “Faraway Friday” or even “Flashback Friday” … I think it is fun and I have done a few posts doing a look back, like this one when I turned 60 years old and did a collage of pictures through the years … in order to get all these photos in, I had to make them really small and it took a long time:
      https://lindaschaubblog.net/2016/04/14/the-ultimate-throwback-thursday/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sandra J says:

        The collage is just wonderful Linda, I love the photos through the center, ,they look like glamour shots. You are so pretty, model pretty. What a great collection, and I love all the different hair styles, I had a few of those. When we were young, my sister and I had the exact same hair cut for years. It was probably easier to make us the same than. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Thank you Sandra – you will make my head swell. A couple of those pictures were “Glamour Shots” … there was a company called “Glamour Shots” that came to a local mall and had a portable trailer (or room of some kind) and there was a photographer and assistant, someone from a store like Hudson’s (at that time) did your makeup and a hair stylist from J.D. Penney’s did your hair, then you picked some outfits to be photographed in. My mom did it for a present for my 40th birthday – it was fun. A real shoot. 🙂 It was fun to put together all those old pictures. I scanned in my driver’s license picture for the very last one. 🙂 The haircuts over the years … my parents cut my bangs and they’d stand on either side of me, wet the bangs down, then put cellophane tape on them and cut across, usually not straight so they’d keep cutting and cutting!

        Like

  12. Nancy Ruegg says:

    The empty lot behind our house in the 1960s was home to a giant willow tree. It provided a grand, shady spot for imaginary play and reading. Then the empty lot was sold in the early 70s, I think, and the grand tree was chopped down to make room for a new house. So sad! / Your days at the park reminded me of our bike treks to the park nearest us that included a community pool. That’s how we stayed cool–swimming, splashing, and diving every afternoon. You do conjure up wonderful memories, Linda!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      How sad they chopped down the tree without a care in the world. That’s sad Nancy. We had lots of fun in those days and the TV set was never on for us to watch programs – we were like sponges and absorbed all that which was around us.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Linda you are so fortunate to have so many beautiful parks. I love how each one is dedicated to different groups. As for the willow trees, they are gorgeous but they have given me so many headaches over the years. Like you said, the roots go everywhere. They seek out water and their roots from a neighbors tree grew through my brand new pool liner for a drink. Then they ran into my sewer pipe from the house to the road…yep back up everything we flushed. So what do we do but move in the country with a huge willow tree in the front yard. Clean up is endless and one year, just 1 day before we were driving to Florida an ice storm hit. So many branches and limbs fell in the driveway we couldn’t even get the car out! So yes, they are a gorgeous tree…in somebody else’s yard far away…lol

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Wow – I didn’t know they were problematic like that in a residential setting … in that case I don’t blame you for feeling that way about them Diane. 🙂 We had a honey locust and yes it was beautiful, but … those tiny little leaves got tracked into the house, all over the bottom of your shoes, and the stems were all over the driveway and porch – in the rain they were slippery!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Amorina Rose says:

    Sometimes even beautiful things can be problematic. Great photos

    Liked by 2 people

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, it’s too bad it could not have lived longer, growing taller and wider and its roots would not damage homeowners’ property since it was in this park. Mother Nature holds all the cards sometimes sadly. Thank you – glad you enjoyed the photos.

      Like

  15. Kally says:

    You are an inspirational writer. I do so enjoy your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thank you Kally for your comment. I had to rescue you from SPAM – I sure don’t know why. I am glad you are enjoying the posts. I have to say that walking and writing have been the best thing to happen to me and I hope to continue both for a very long time.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Pam Lazos says:

    So sorry about your willow tree, Linda. It lived a good life, though, it seems. Somebody should upcycle the wood and make a cool table!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s