Last year Fall arrived on our campus with almost shocking force, with the trees, in particular, drawing attention to themselves.
Though it was exhilarating to drive to school through showers of red and gold, it was also a bit sad, because soon all of this colorful beauty would be gone in favor of a more stark display in black and white. Trees are an integral component of SVS life.
In 2006, students were looking on with very serious expressions when it was time to say good bye to the big beech tree that had been part of SVS since it opened its doors in 1968. Its different “levels” were common reference points, and over the course of several decades,students gave particular branches names, such as Peanut Eater, Oh Phyllis (after a carving into the bark), and Scary Branch.
Today, the tree’s conspicuous three-pronged silhouette lives on on our diploma document and our student ID cards.
A stylized version went onto a T-Shirt (seen here on a stick structure, another way trees and students work together at SVS), and it is the emblem adorning our school planning kit boxes. Stories and memories about climbing and sitting in the tree still abound.
Inspired by his experience of SVS - and perhaps some of the tree stories - a contractor working on the barn renovation in 2008 decided to add this tree mosaic to the barn entrance floor area, depicting a large, generation-spanning tree. These kind of big trees on our campus, like the enormous beech tree, can date back as far as the 1860s.
This Norway Spruce, for example, might have been around since then. It survived when the remnants of hurricane Sandy hit campus in October 2012, unlike one of its companions, which fell on the bike-shed during that stormy night.
To minimize such events, our trees are under continuous observation from tree specialists, who alert us of conditions like weakening branches or other possible issues.
Sometimes, situations can be remedied. Other times, despite the professional care and personal loving attention our trees receive year round, a tree has to be cut.
Where one tree goes, another one might emerge: For example, from the shadow of the Beech Tree - and with a lot of care taking from our side - emerged this Sycamore.
And close by grows an actual beech tree descendent. Started from one of its beechnuts, it is not quite ready yet for climbing.
But “Monkey Tree,” a young maple tree, definitely is. Nicked by a lawn mower in the 80s, it is now providing a beautifully shaded picnic spot besides being good for climbing.
This summer, it was time to bid good bye to another much loved tree, the big sugar maple by the parking lot. Taking it down left a big empty spot.
It was hard to imagine how it would be filled, until this graceful little fellow arrived, another Sugar Maple, sporting its best fall foliage.
We’ll take good care of it to get it through winter and are already looking forward to its new leaves emerging once we are done with the snow and cold.
Until then, let’s celebrate trees at SVS.