A 9-table stimulated matrix cluster vignette titled SumacTree by J E D Cline on Friday, April 11, 2008 11:33:18 AM US/Pacific




grok the whole


sequential analysis


physical action



dismay when cut

one in pot



summer shade

fall leaves


cut down

Sumac Tree

A large tree in the center of my backyard shows lots of history through its many severed limbs and huge trunk. It is deciduous, loses its leaves during the winter, unlike the also large trees on edge of property, a pine and a cedar. I had asked the neighbors to the north of my house what kind of tree it was, when I was apologizing for the rootlets invading their yard and having to be frequently cut down; the lady just said it was a "dirty tree" but eventually her son told me it was a Sumac. I had only known Sumac as a scrub brush, such as Poison Sumac; but this one in my back yard was a huge tree. It had several old things hanging on it, one a wire cable with pulleys like used for a clothesline; another was attached far up in the tree, a 1/2 inch hemp rope, also probably from back when the house was built and hemp was just another plant living here in the US, unlike today when it is not legal. I read long ago that hemp rope was the strongest material in existence for its weight, stronger than the finest steel. Of course it was  a tensile material, unlike steel which can also support in compression. Nowadays there is nylon rope which has supplanted hemp rope, being still legal. Anyway, plants like trees make wonderful things, and I feel sad about the giant Sumac in my yard having to come down; I fantasize I even feel its dismay, in my solar plexus. I have dug up and potted one of its rootlets which I had allowed to grow last summer, is about a yard or meter high, still in its dormant state. I hope I can prepare a place for it in my yard, but with isolated root growth area, so it cannot invade elsewhere. Maybe dig out a 10 foot by 10 foot area and line it with concrete block and line that with a plastic sheeting material, then refill with dirt and the small tree. The tree's propagation by its rootlets reminds me of the way of the great redwood trees, spreading from boles, roots growing into new trees where conditions permit survival and a new tree is born to carry on the genes, later to spread its roots and grow new trees at its periphery too, and all trees are thus joined at the roots, big family. The Sumac surly was transplanted here, the surrounding desert unable to support such a thing, requires much water that is not natural for the area, being a dry desert wasteland leftover from massive flushing from the Missoula Floods at end of last Ice Age, leaving round tumbled stones across the scoured plain, to grow only lichens and some short scrub brush, a foot or so high when I moved here but the snow and rains since I have been here have enabled the desert scrub brush to double in size. But this Sumac tree has made this place its home and surely is at least half as old as I; it is I the invader, not it. Its tree leaves will not be there to shade in summer hot afternoons anymore, so the air conditioning bill will be higher. Life is always a mixed bag, each thing in the bag has desirable and undesirable aspects. Trimming this huge Sumac tree had become a risky thing, extending far above the incoming power and fiber lines; and it was said to have shallow roots in the wind and its limbs tended to fall off, crashing down onto things and even people sometimes. Perhaps I could have used it to support a ham radio antenna but that is no option anymore, tree about gone now as the cutters work. Soon there will be no large Sumac tree anymore in my backyard that would show its long history of growth and cutback; I thank the tree for its presence and its life that had been here. 


Copyright © 2008 James E. D. Cline. Permission granted to reproduce providing inclusion of a link back to this site and acknowledgment of the author and concept designer James E. D. Cline.