In the Midwest the life of trees can be hard. Almost every tree past a certain age shows signs of having lost a large branch or two. Yesterday, as a storm came through (one of several in the last week), the wind took down not only branches but whole trees everywhere in the city. Along Arsenal, at the southern edge of Tower Grove Park, we saw in the half-mile or so between Grand and Kingshighway perhaps a hundred damaged trees, including two great specimens that had fallen across the street. By the time we drove through, crews from the city had already sawn them into segments and dragged them onto the sidewalks. On our street a medium-sized Bradford Pear lost its top two branches, which may have been for the best—better that than the whole tree.
The great storms of a Midwestern spring bring the force of nature into an urban setting which in most respects has tamed nature or banished it altogether. More subtle, but probably more decisive in the end, is the constant encroachment of weeds and saplings into every untended section of pavement. Oak, maple, and spruce saplings have sprung up between the bricks in our patio, and in ten years would destroy it if we let them. It would not take long for the city to revert back to scrubland, though centuries, no doubt, would be needed for the forests that once covered this area to return in their former condition. Is it misanthropic to feel some pleasure in imagining such a restoration?