The Old Lady’s Identity Revealed

She’s an Elm.

Many thanks go to the Arbor Day Foundation’s Online Tree Identification Guide, which is a wonderful resource for all matters arboreal.

And now, some Elm Fun Facts!

*Tolerance of air pollution made it a favorite tree for city plantings (until the Dutch Elm Disease epidemic).
*Wood used to make wheels, chair seats, coffins, and drain pipes.
*Bark was one of the main food sources during the Norwegian famine of 1812.

Of course, I couldn’t resist looking up some of the more esoteric Elm lore as well.  This post by Ellen Evert Hopman has a wonderful collection of beliefs from both Old and New World sources.  Some of the more interesting associations are those of the Elm with Elves by the Anglo-Saxons, the factoid that elms were favorite trees for Cornish Maypoles, and the many medicinal and household uses of the Elm by various Indigenous American tribes.

From my own experience with Old Lady, she is quite the mothering figure, dominating the side of the hill (our neighbor is constantly griping that she’s “ruining his view”).  She’s a buffet for several woodpeckers, as well as a perch for hawks passing though.  Blue jays broadcast the movements of our cat from her branches, and mourning doves perform their courtships under her auspices.  She is also a shelter for several varieties of plants, from wild roses to the ubiquitous Northeastern bane, poison ivy, to clusters of violets and clover, who in turn feed the bees captured sunlight.  I can’t vouch about elves, but she’s definitely an anchor for various energies running through and about the landscape.

Yep, she’s a grand old dame, and I have the feeling that she’s seen a lot here on our little hill.  I worry that she’s entering the twilight of her career (not that I’d tell her that), but she keep coming back with renewed vigor each spring.  Sitting beneath her branches in the morning sun, I can only hope that she whispers even a little bit of her wisdom to me.

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