for the trees.

January 19, 2010

Madison House winter est 1954Madison House with Elm Trees

photos of the house i grew up in. taken sometime in the middle of the last century and given to my family by a man who loved the house nearly much as i do. someday, i’ll write about the house, but today, a little note about the trees.
american elms. planted all over new england with such wild abandon, that most of them were left to suffer the perils of dutch elm disease. efforts to save the stately old trees included dousing them with lethal doses of pesticides aimed at killing the beetles carrying the disease from diseased to healthy trees. if you haven’t read it yet, rachel carson’s silent spring does more justice to the subject than i ever could {also a good read if you’re in the market for a new personal heroine}.
today, the oldest elm tree in new england was cut down. 240 years old, the victim of another fungal disease. a brief story about the tree and its caretaker, here, just because.

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  • Reply Chelsea January 19, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    I love these photos! The house looks amazing. When I was a kid, my family lived in a 200 year old brick house in New Hampshire and these photos reminded me of it. I love New England:)

  • Reply our little love nest January 19, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Wow!! They have signs everywhere back in Vancouver to protect the city's trees against 'elm disease'. So sad to lose beautiful old trees like that. Wonderful photos! xo

  • Reply cindy January 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    i love these photos, especially the snow. the trees were so old even back then. it's really sad to lose trees, but thankfully new ones can always be planted. we have a million tree program here in nyc.

  • Reply smrithi rao January 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    love the pictures and what a beautiful sorry about the trees though.

  • Reply knack January 19, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    your house looks so awesome and the trees are just majestic………

    ….we have a 250 year old massive oak tree in our backyard…..I just love it…and one time it had a little fungus issue at the base……..I panicked and called the tree doctor……he literally injected something into the area and it has been good as new ever since……gotta love the tree doctor!


  • Reply anotherfishinthesea January 19, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    poor elms. 🙁 that made me sad.

    your pictures are beautiful though, they look really and truly magical.

  • Reply simplesong January 20, 2010 at 2:46 am

    gorgeous, gorgeous photos! thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Amy January 20, 2010 at 4:00 am

    I love the old pictures with the line of majestic trees. It's sad that so many are gone here in New England. We lost a large copper beech tree in the center of town last year and the green just doesn't look right anymore.

  • Reply Ashley January 20, 2010 at 6:02 am

    The largest amassing of American elms is along the promenade in Central Park–planted when they first constructed Central Park. They're stunning. This and these photos make me want to know more about elms. I'm sorry to hear about the fallen one.

    Lovely photos–thank you for sharing!

  • Reply katie f January 20, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    my heart breaks just a little bit for beautiful elm trees when i read your post. i used to live near one of the oldest maples in ontario and its incredible the kind of connections and attachments we can have with trees. your photographs are poetic and charming.

  • Reply Julia January 20, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Oh my goodness, 240 years old? That's truly incredible. I'm so sorry to hear about it's demise. I don't know what it is, but cutting down trees makes me want to weep!

  • Reply Adrienne January 20, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    wow beautiful photos Erin! thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Stacey January 20, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    So unbelievably gorgeous. Old trees getting sick makes me very very sad, they are so beautiful and serve such a wonderful purpose and have seen through many generations. Lovely post.

  • Reply the goodie life January 20, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    what a BEAUTIFUL house! it seems like a lovely area. you are so lucky to have these photos – it's always nice to see something you love in another time. you can imagine it's life with other people. cutting down a 240 year old tree makes me want to cry. what a loss.

  • Reply Jane Flanagan January 20, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Oh wow – what a stunning house and beautiful trees! This mixed-emotion post made me feel deeply nostalgic, but in a good way. There's something uplifting about it even in the sadness.

  • Reply doebmom January 20, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Funny, hunh, to think that our little piece of road used to be called Elm Street–nary a one in sight now, except for the one canopying our back garden. Castine, Maine, has one of the nation's oldest and largest colonies of elms, specially protected by an elm ordinance. I think nearly 300 ancient elms are there. Maine has a special org called Project Canopy, which protects community trees all around the state. Pretty awesome.

  • Reply paula January 21, 2010 at 2:23 am

    how beautiful. i am sure you all will treasure this forever.

  • Reply vintage simple January 21, 2010 at 3:31 am

    Oh. I kind of feel like Jane… It's like there is promise and hope in the love for your house (still standing) in the post… somehow makes me feel like there would be hope for the trees, too, somehow. You managed to infuse a sad post with hope, I guess, and I loved that about it. Thank you, Erin.


  • Reply Alexa January 26, 2012 at 2:47 am

    What a lovely place to grow up!

  • Reply Emily @ thirtyeight20 February 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    This sentiment reminds me of my parents' home, an antebellum farmhouse deep in the Pennsylvania mountains. My dad carefully restored the entire, decrepit old house with his own two hands. We spent most of our childhood with spotty plumbing, sharing beds, our only heat coming from the living room fireplace. I love that house.

    In high school, a friend's mom and grandmother came to our house to pick her up from a sleepover. When the elderly grandmother got to the front door she was weeping. She told us that during the Great Depression, her aunt and uncle owned the house and operated the farm. When she'd visit, she was amazed by the plentiful food they had when her own family was near starvation. To her, our home was a haven during such an uncertain time in her childhood. Even at 15, it was such a humbling story for me.

    History is a powerful thing.

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