"I’m not dead yet"

The title of today’s post is best read in a British accent, a la Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In that movie, there’s a scene set in the Middle Ages in which men are hauling carts through a village calling, “Bring out your dead. Bring out your dead.” The plague has hit, and the men are hauling away the dead. Now, in case you have been hiding under a rock for the last several decades or irreverent, comedic farce isn’t your preferred movie genre, you need to understand that nothing about Monty Python is serious. So try to imagine the humor of the scene that ensues:

A man is trying to get his elderly relative onto the cart, despite the fact that the elderly man, though frail, is still very much alive. He keeps protesting, “I’m not dead yet.” But the younger man doesn’t want to miss the opportunity of the carts coming through the village and have to wait until the next one.

Well, that phrase, “I’m not dead yet” has been running through my head all morning, thanks to a visit from an agricultural extension agent to check out some dead and ailing trees at our place in the mountains. 

We definitely have one tree that is completely dead. It was a beautiful, tall tree, but there’s simply no saving it, and so we’ll have to get it cut down. But there are several others – hemlocks and cypresses – that are definitely not flourishing. We had expected to hear that most of them were too far gone to save and that we’d have to cut them down, too.

But the very sweet ag agent, who said she hates delivering bad news first thing in the morning, was happy to report that the problems with our trees could be treated.

So here are the instructions she left us with:

  • The hemlocks in our area are dying off in dramatic fashion due to an infestation of hemlock woolly adelgid. Ours can still be saved, though, with a treatment of a pesticide.
  • Our five cypresses are covered in spittlebugs. I kid you not – they look like something has spit all over the trees. (If you don’t believe me, just Google images of spittlebugs – gross!) We can use a hose to blast them off. Otherwise, the trees are strong and healthy enough to withstand the bugs.
  • The blue spruce pines – which we hadn’t been worried about – need lime each fall to make the soil less acidic and help the trees stay strong enough to fight off any pests.

So we have a bigger landscaping to-do list than we did before, but it’ll be worth it. And while the cart will have to come by for one of our trees, the rest of them are saying, “I’m not dead yet.” Which is good news to this girl who loves trees.

It’s also a reminder that even though we’re supposed to bloom where we’re planted, we sometimes need a little extra help from others. So take a look around you today, and see if there’s someone else you can help along the way, who may need an extra hand – or even a good hosing down – to flourish.

2 thoughts on “"I’m not dead yet"

  1. Lauren — it can be an expensive process to save the trees, which I assume is why there's not a large-scale ability to save them. Plus, the pesticides can be harmful near water supplies, and so it's not like you can just drop the pesticide from a crop duster (which is what I thought of while driving around the area this past week and saw so many dead/dying hemlocks). I'm hopeful researchers will be able to find a cure or produce a disease-resistant hemlock some day.

  2. I'm so glad your hemlock can be saved…I thought there was no hope for those. i wonder how many trees in the mountains they're able to treat with that pesticide, or is it just private homeowners?

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