A Giant Loses a Limb

IMG_2053by cheri sabraw

We were lying in bed yesterday morning, listening to the delightful sounds of a morning coming to consciousness: Turkeys stepping through dry leaves, finches singing to their mates, blue jays squawking at will and the 6:30 am Southwest Airlines jet heading into Oakland to land.


I heard a crack. That was it–just a deep sound in our oak forest. Oh well, I wonder if my coffee is ready downstairs…

Within minutes, that crack opened up at the angle between two branches that must have weighed several tons or more; we heard a booming cracking thud, as one enormous arm of our beautiful  old oak tree crashed down on a lower branch, equally as large.

IMG_2058I shuttered to think of all of the birds’ nests that sat up there in that oak.

IMG_2064This photo does not concern the part of the tree that broke off. I’ve included it so that you can view the immense canopy at the top.

We called our friends from Newark Tree Service–Felix (in his 70’s), his son Miguel and  their friend Ephraim, all of whom have taken good care of our trees for many years.

Although they had already worked a full day elsewhere and are completely booked through the end of the year, up they came this afternoon to help.

When my husband got home from work, he joined in, as well.



Felix is a living testimony to the old adage that work is good for man. Look at that guy in his mid-seventies!

IMG_2080 2

Miguel, Ephraim, and Ron feed the chipper.

Losing a part of a tree this big reminds us that these gentle giants are vulnerable to age and an imbalance of weight (like we humans are…)

The smell, however, of oak branches and acorns being shredded through a chipper is fragrant.


Efraim, Ron, Felix, and Miguel

But not as delightful as all of those handsome men whom I am lucky enough to call my friends (and husband.)

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Life, My photography, Nature photography, People and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A Giant Loses a Limb

  1. Wow or wow, huge tree indeed. Your oaks are lovely and quite old. They appear much larger than my native live oaks and mine are probably 150 years old, just have never asked a tree expert. I am in Texas and in my neck of the town where I live ,many of the oaks have succumbed to either live oak wilt or live oak decline. We lost about six trees more than 25 years ago. I was fearful that the wilt would take out all our trees but thank heaven the disease ceased its relentless march on our property.

  2. Cheri says:

    So GREAT to hear from you petspeopleandlife! I hope you are doing well. My mother was a Texan; I have seen many of those Texan live oaks about which you write. I am SO GLAD that your trees have survived. Crossing our fingers: our oaks have not endured blight but are so big and old that this type of loss continues to happen. Last winter, we lost a BIG TREE. Now people can see our house from our road. BOO HOO!

    Appreciate your weighing in.

  3. Brig says:

    Glad there was no harm done, other than the loss of a limb. My dad taught me to never to be under those oaks (especially the horizontal branches) in the summer.
    Here is a good article on this: http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=18674

  4. ShimonZ says:

    How lucky you are to have such beautiful trees next to your home. I only hear bird chirps after waking… occasionally a meow. But it’s a nice way to rejoin the world. I loved the group shot of the workers. They look like very agreeable and friendly folk.

    • Cheri says:

      They are one of the nicest families I know. They come here twice a year. I pamper them by making them coffees, having lunch with them, and then, of course, some beers at the end of a very long day.

  5. shoreacres says:

    It’s interesting that a California landscape professional I follow posted recently about spontaneous limb failure. I’d never heard the term, but I thought the explanation was interesting, and it certainly seems as though your experience could be related.

    Those trees are beautiful. They obviously give you immense pleasure, as they should.

    • Cheri says:

      Yes. The loss of this big limb was definitely spontaneous limb failure, the first since we have lived here (25 years). Today, when I went for my walk up the road, I looked at all the horizontal limbs that could fall on me!

  6. Richard says:

    Ron isn’t wearing a hard hat.

  7. Cheri says:

    Thank you! The tree sends her love too.

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