Art Attack – Buckeye’s luck runs out
A telltale sign you are a card-carrying tree hugger is if you have a favorite tree or trees you can identify in town. (If you have pet names for them, then you might want to seek help.) My all-time, nameless fave has to be the red buckeye that sits in front of the post office on Spring St.
It’s also directly across from my store where for several years I’ve witnessed its beauty in all of it seasonal glory.
The red buckeye acquires its leaves in early spring, blooms red flowers in May and produces a hard nut in the fall. Our post office variety is unique in that it has a long, very established lower limb that horizontally juts more than eight feet across.
Visitors and locals have always had a fascination with this tree. The long lower limb is a prime spot for a seated photo-op and is used as a stepladder to gain access to the top nut bearing branches.
Come fall it is always a race to see who will gather the most fallen fruit – John Mitchell almost always the decided winner.
A few years ago Eureka Springs matriarch Helen Harrison came into my store with a handful of buckeyes. “These are considered very good luck – I think you need two,” she said. I keep one on top of my cash register, the other in my pants pocket.
I admit I have a certain attachment to this particular tree and have been known to be a little over protective – scolding children for jumping and swinging on it and chastising grown-ups for shaking it too hard for the nuts to fall.
So it came as quite a shock when I spotted two men, one with chainsaw in hand gathered around my buckeye. In an instant they removed the magnificent lower limb. 30-plus years of growth gone in eight seconds.
I have to assume that word got back to the post master that a lunatic had accosted them for cutting off the limb because when I went in to inquire an hour later why he had allowed a Eureka Springs landmark to be cut down, he was very much on the defensive. To paraphrase – “This is federal property and we don’t have to abide by city’s rules, the lower limb was a safety hazard and it was difficult to mow underneath. End of conversation.”
While I probably owe the postmaster an apology for the only two words I said to him in response, I don’t understand this American need to manicure everything in sight.
And just for the record, I was not endorsing illegal drug use for teenagers in last week’s column, but I do think there are certain people that could use a little magic (mushroom) in their lives.