Floyd Street’s charm­ing trees

The Covington News - - OPINION - PAULA TRAVIS COLUM­NIST Paula Travis is a re­tired teacher from the New­ton County School Sys­tem. She can be reached at ptravis@cov­news.com.

My hus­band and I made what I hope is the last ef­fort to de­nude the yard of leaves right be­fore Christ­mas. It was ei­ther the third or fourth sweep of the yard this year.

We have it down to a sci­ence. I blow the leaves from the edges into the mid­dle of the yard and my hus­band rides over then with the lawn mower and mulches them up. Some­times there are so many leaves, the mulched re­mains leave the yard look­ing brown, but they dis­in­te­grate soon enough.

My hus­band thinks blow­ing the leaves from the edges of the yard into the mid­dle is a waste of time. He thinks I should blow them into the flow­ers and what­ever and let them be mulch. First of all, I don’t think the drive­way needs to be mulched, and se­condly, he doesn’t re­al­ize that those leaves he ig­nores on the perime­ter of the yard tip toe their way back into the mid­dle of the yard as soon as you put the lawn­mower up. If he mows be­fore I get out into the yard, the leaves stay on the edges. But if I get out there first, they get blown to the mid­dle and mulched.

I have more trees than I can count on my fin­gers in my yard. The maple, pecan and dog­wood trees are pre­dictable. They turn pretty col­ors and then lose their leaves, usu­ally by the first of Novem­ber. I swear the maple loses its leaves overnight. One day the leaves are yel­low and on the tree, and the next they are a huge drift of yel­low un­der the tree.

We did have a huge elm tree in the yard at the end of the drive­way. It suc­cumbed to the disease that killed most of the elms in the United States. I swear I am not mak­ing this up; some kind of tree sci­en­tist from the Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia tried to save my elm tree by giv­ing it a shot. Ob­vi­ously, the shot did not suc­ceed.

But the ma­jor­ity of my trees are oak trees. At least five of them. Oak trees have a whole dif­fer­ent take on shed­ding their leaves. They take the op­po­site track from the maple. No in­stan­ta­neous nu­dity for them.

Oaks are the ecdysi­asts of the tree world. They coyly drop their leaves a lit­tle at a time and en­joy your ogling them as you won­der how many more leaves are on the tree. They dance in the wind, let­ting a pre­cious few leaves drift to the ground, and ex­act the last ounce of an­tic­i­pa­tion from you be­fore you fi­nally get to see their naked limbs. I swear there are dead leaves still on my oak trees when they be­gin bud­ding out in the spring.

De­spite the up­keep in the fall, I love my trees. I am sure a lot of the charm of Floyd Street is the over­ar­ch­ing canopy of leaves which cov­ers the street in many places. The shade th­ese trees of­fer in the spring and sum­mer is a wel­come re­lief to the walk­ers, strollers, moth­ers with baby strollers and jog­gers who avail them­selves of the side­walks for trans­porta­tion and ex­er­cise. And, be­lieve me, those side­walks are well used.

I was, there­fore, un­happy that the city of Cov­ing­ton chose to cut down two very large and old trees on Floyd Street in Novem­ber. I can only as­sume that the city had a rea­son for their de­struc­tion.

The rain­forests of South Amer­ica have been called the lungs of the earth be­cause of the huge amounts of car­bon diox­ide they con­sume only to emit oxy­gen. We need to think of the large old trees of Cov­ing­ton as the lungs of our city and try to pre­serve them when­ever pos­si­ble.

I hope the city will plant trees to re­place the ones that they cut down. I also hope they plant trees that will grow to the size that those trees were, even though I know I will not live to see them at full ma­tu­rity. As pretty as a dog­wood is, we need to re­place the large canopy that was lost when those trees were cut down.

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