Once a Mighty Palm

Strange story the stump tells. Gone is the magnificent palm tree that dominated the corner of Monroe and Cleveland, nearby the Wilcox’s old apartment, in our San Diego neighborhood. This morning, while driving by, on my way to North County, I saw a tree cutter toss down the last frond before lopping off the top. Late afternoon, walking back, the devastation confronted me.

I haven’t written much about this tree over the years, but fleeting mentions are significant enough: “Fallen Fronds” (December 2017) and “Bell” (November 2016) from my “Cats of University Heights” series, where the kitty sits by the palm trunk that is now a stump.

Palm pillaging is suddenly popular in this community, which is besieged by rampant, and constant, urban demolition that replaces rustic, historic homes with tasteless, modern multi-story apartment structures or condominiums. Two weeks ago, cutters chopped down a lovely palm tree across the street from our residence, and one visible from my office window. I asked workmen why. The answer: “It’s too tall”. Not compared to many others, I thought (but didn’t say).

More trees are sure to follow, but this one is a sorry loss. I know for certainty that the mighty palm was a wildlife habitat and food source—for birds and squirrels, mainly. Lucky thing that I have the corner shot, which is companion to the Featured Image (warning: 19MB file). At 3:10 p.m. PST, I used Sigma fp and 45mm F2.8 DG DN | C lens to capture the stump. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/100 sec, 45mm.

The standing palm comes from Leica Q, Feb. 3, 2019. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, 28mm; 10:53 a.m. I took the photo because the tree seemed to lean more acutely following heavy rains (it didn’t). That lucky mistaken observation compelled me to preserve the moment. Maybe I should be proactive documenting the neighborhood before much else is destroyed.

Update, Dec. 23, 2019: When I saw the palm butchering in progress, I pulled over the car and called my wife to tell her. Turns out that Annie felt as sentimental about the tree as me. She hoofed up to the location and shot some quick vids using iPhone XS. Press play to watch the most dramatic of them.