Our 100-year-old tree moves on to a new life

We have an old black republic cherry tree in our front yard in Seattle. This type of cherry tree has a life span of about 80 years. Ours is at least 100 years old. Most of its branches have died. The trunk has a circumference of about 93 inches and is twisted.

Back in its prime, it produced buckets of large black republic cherries. These cherries are larger than bing or Rainier cherries, with a dark rich juice. When our older son was in grade school, he sold bags of the cherries to our neighbors. He had consistent sales in the summer, making a much higher profit than the neighbor boys, who were selling rocks from their backyard.

The cherry tree was useful in other ways. When he was about seven years old, our younger son built a device that he liked to ride. It had four wheels, and a seat made from a 2 x 4. He did not have a place for his feet, so he took an old pair of shoes, and nailed the tongues of the shoes to the board that connected the front wheels. He then put his feet in those shoes.

It did not have brakes. Fortunately, it did not go fast. Our street has a slight incline, and he would carry it to the top of the street and then ride it down the sidewalk to get a little momentum. When he came to our house, he would steer it (with his nailed-in shoes) onto the grass to slow it down, and then come to a complete stop by crashing into the cherry tree.

Our children are now grown. Our tree looks old and tired. It produces no more than a handful of cherries that only the starlings can reach. No one crashes into it anymore.

Like putting our old dog to sleep, it is heart-breaking to think of ending the life of this old tree. Every year we have enjoyed its blossoms, and the carpet of petals that fall onto the lawn.

To us, it seems obvious that this tree is very valuable. When finally deciding to have it taken down, we had the idea of salvaging the twisted trunk for furniture. So, we contacted an urban wood company that salvages trees. They told us the tree is too twisted, and has no value. It was suggested that we could use the remaining healthy branches for slow burning fires and for smoking.

And that is exactly what we are going to do. We will use the branches of our twisted cherry tree to smoke our barley and to season our spirits. Our tree will continue to give us pleasure. It will never lose it value to us.