Press-Republican

Columns

September 19, 2012

Mystery in tree a real education

Fall is my favorite time of year. Nature is so beautiful with leaves turning orange, red and yellow; the days are sunny, and the nights are cool.

Nature can also be quirky, to say the least.

For the past three or four years, I have been watching a “thing” growing in our very tall pine tree. Each year I would tell Toby there was something weird about that tree, and he’d tell me it was only a bird’s nest and to forget about it.

This year was no different. All summer I kept an eye on this “thing” in our tree. Finally I could ignore it no longer. I took a picture and sent it to the local Cooperative Extension asking if they knew what it was. The reply was that it looked like a squirrel’s nest.

I hated to disagree, but I had never seen a squirrel’s nest that looked like that, stayed around from year to year and grew larger each summer.

A week ago, I took my usual stroll around the yard, checked out the “thing” in the tree and was surprised to see that the limb it was attached to had begun to sag and looked like it was going to break. Well, that was it. Time to cut that “thing” down.

After telling Toby what I was planning, he said he would go up the tree and saw the limb, probably because he remembers me climbing a ladder once before and falling flat on my back while standing at the top. He also said something about not wanting “it” to drop on his face and be attacked by something.

As he sawed, I waited underneath. With a “crack,” the limb let go and down came the “thing.” It weighs about 20 pounds, is 33 inches from top to bottom and more than 5 feet around. As I carried it back to the house, I still had no idea what we had.

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Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

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