Letter: Let’s talk about tree pruning

To the editor:

As I grow older it seems I do much more reminiscing than I used to. I guess this is because I have more to reminisce about. For instance, I often think about the really nice people that have passed before me and I regret that. Then I also think about those who were not so nice and I am happy that I outlived them.

It also reminds me that I used to be able to multi-task quite a bit, but I do not do so much of that any more. But thinking of that reminds me of a favorite aunt of mine who lived, what seemed to me at the time, a long life. Of course I thought of her as old when I was a teenager and she was maybe in her 50s.

Her name was Nancy but to me it was always Aunt (pronounced in southern Indiana as “ant”) Nanny. She had a wonderful sense of humor and she loved to play cards, any kind. She lived with me and my young wife for almost a year starting with about our first six months of marriage.

My wife was pregnant and was estranged from her parents at the time (my mother-in-law did not like me — she thought I would never amount to anything and that I would die by age 50. She may have been correct on the first count).

Aunt Nanny served as part-time cook (read that as best cook at the time) and companion and then as Nanny to our first-born son for the first six months or so. But this is leading up to Aunt Nanny’s famous claim that her grandmother could multi-task.

She was said to be able to do three things at once while working in the garden. She was said to be able to smoke a pipe, pick peas and pee at the same time. I never tried that because I did not smoke. But the stories about Aunt Nanny and her humorous actions and sayings could take up a whole letter.

But this brings me to my real point, that of trees, who do multiple things for us. Often when I am introduced to someone here in Franklin as Jim Crane, their next response is oh yeah, you are the “tree man.”

The next statement is often, “Why did you plant the trees so close together?” The answer is because we could. But the real answer goes further in that when placed closely together they will grow straighter and taller and they will eventually thin themselves as the weaker trees will not survive.

But to the next point, to really grow into a good long lasting tree they need a little care along the way. Part of that is proper pruning to shape the growth and avoid multiple trunks and therefore weaker trees.

The main point about pruning is never top the tree, that is never cut the main stem at the top. But there is a proper way to lop off the lower limbs to avoid damage to the main trunk and to send the growth energy to the main stem rather than the branches. Trees in the urban forest are now at the age when some pruning is in order.

We are planning, in cooperation with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, a pruning event early this summer. The current plans are for that event to be staged at two locations, one at the forest site, and the other at the Franklin United Methodist Community north of Canary Creek as it runs through the campus parallel to Westview Drive.

The training will be provided by DNR personnel aided by other volunteers trained in the process. Volunteers will be sought to attend the training which is open to the public. The practice will be performed on the young trees in those areas.

Those trees will be of age one to six years. Further information will be forthcoming from the DNR and from Franklin Parks and Recreation Department. It will probably be an afternoon event to allow time for people coming home from work to have a chance to attend.

Now back to multi-tasking. I first learned multi-tasking after receiving my driver’s license. I quickly learned with the 1939 Ford I was driving to steer with my left hand while holding my right arm around my girlfriend’s shoulders.

The real challenging part was making a turn signal or shifting gears with a “three in the floor” gear shift and no turn signals on the “tree,” while still keeping proper control of the vehicle.

Stay tuned for more information on the tree-pruning event, currently scheduled for 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. June 9.

Jim Crane