The island has been relatively quiet this week except for one bit of news which really lit up the “Mackinac Island Dockporters Association” Facebook page a couple of days ago. Long-time friend Josh Carley posted this photo of State Park maintenance workers trimming limbs off the beautiful old elm tree that has stood for decades at the corner of Marquette Park across from Doud’s Market.
I still don’t have any definite news on whether the tree was being taken down completely, or whether it was just a trim of dead limbs, but since that photo appeared there have been dozens and dozens of comments lamenting the loss of the tree (if, indeed, it is being removed completely) or the potential loss at some time in the future.
Because it’s a slow news week, I’m just going to put my two cents worth in.
I love that tree. It’s been there ever since I first set foot on the island in 2000 and for many decades before. That little oasis of shade, stone wall, and benches is the perfect place to people watch, chat with friends (and strangers), eat a quick lunch from the Doud’s deli, or rest for a moment after traipsing around the downtown area all morning. It’s a much sought-after spot to watch parades or wait on a private carriage tour to begin. I’ve sat on that stone wall with many island friends over the years – Jill, Frankie, Joe Plaza, Snapper, Chief Duck, Richard Pasco, Candy Smith . . . the list goes on and is made more poignant in knowing that Joe and Snapper are no longer with us. I’ve eaten ice cream there, sat with Bear and Maddie at my feet waiting on Ted to come out of Doud’s, and met more than one blog reader – either on purpose (“let’s meet under the tree on the corner of Marquette Park”) or as a total surprise when I’d be walking by and someone would yell, “Bree!”
I. Love. That. Tree..
Just as we all thought it was practically the end of the world when the beautiful old trees that lined Cadotte leading up to Grand Hotel had to be removed – life did go on. Young trees were planted to replace them, and now – even though they have only been there a few years, they are already beautifully blazing a path in the Fall.
The way it was when we first starting coming to Mackinac. This is from October, 2005. (Photo: Mike Forrester)
And now. (Photo – Mackinac Revealed)
If and when the Marquette Park corner tree comes down, I will miss it as much as everyone else. But . . . trees get old and become diseased. They have a life expectancy and, although Mackinac trees probably live well past that life expectancy because they are so well cared for, eventually the end comes. Or – because of age and disease and the danger of heavy limbs falling on people or horses or buildings – sometimes they must go before they succumb on their own.
When the tree is gone, I have no doubt in my mind it will be replaced by something beautiful . . . another tree maybe – young and healthy and full of life and potential and promise. I trust the city fathers and mothers to do what is best.
And as for all of us who have spent so much time whiling away the hours in the shade of that old elm, we will mourn her passing. But after we’ve mourned, let’s celebrate the gift she gave us by living out her life on that corner. Let’s celebrate the memories we created under her leafy branches and picture in our minds the show she put on every fall when her leaves were the most brilliant of any tree on the island. She’s a grand old tree. And in our memories she always will be.
The corner before the tree. Somewhere between 1902 and 1905. (Photo found by Roger Priebe)