Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Cypresses

I have been wanting to write about the Monterey cypresses for some time. Last night's big storm, with its morning aftermath of fire trucks, power company vehicles, neighborly conferences in the road, chainsaws, gave me the nudge I needed.

Only one small branch and a rain of cypress pollen fell in the yard, though there are three enormous broken, hanging branches across the street and a pile of debris, cleared by the firemen, beside the driveway. Most of the trees are a hundred feet tall and getting toward the end of their lives, according to Bill, the tree man.

Whenever there is a storm, I tremble and fret, remembering the many times branches have fallen on the cars or gone through the studio roof. I am almost superstitious about the cypresses, using their cones, which are like golf balls, for decoration, making wreaths from the fallen greenery.

This morning Nicodemus and I dug up a six-foot cypress which was trying to grow in absolutely the wrong spot. We planted it in the southwest corner, where two big stumps show that there were large trees growing there some time in the past.

Each cypress tree has a distinct character and appearance. On the west side of the house there are seven remaining trees: Wendy, Wanda, Willa, Winnie, Wahine, and the twins Wose and Wooth. On the south side, in front of the house, is the biggest tree, Susa, beloved of squirrels. On the other side are the twined cypresses Sara and Sota, where the owls roost and the woodpeckers forage. Beyond these are two dead trees, Sank and Sunk, and one barely alive cypress with one live branch, Surviva.

On the East side of the house are the worst troublemakers, so bad that Bill once screeched to a halt as he was driving down the road, ran in and said "you have a branch up there which is life-threatening." That branch was from Elmer, which has provided many near-misses for us on windy days and nights. His companions, progressing toward the street, are Elsa, Emma, Eleanor, Elsie and Elsalita.

The new little cypress is named Cyprian.