My family was among the first wave to move into Philadelphia’s Parkwood Manor neighborhood in 1963.
There are no pictures from move-in day. It was all my parents could do to make the $69 a month mortgage payment, much less afford to have pictures developed.
But we had a house. A house that came standard with two arborvitae trees and one shrub planted on the front lawn.
Both my parents and one of their trees are still going strong almost 60 years later.
My parents’ tree is a tribute to its species, no doubt about it, but has been the frequent target of my mother’s ire, as it serves as a home to a busy community of wildlife, from birds to squirrels and bugs of all kinds.
The mess on their walkway can sometimes be…messy.
But dad absolutely loves the protection his massive arborvitae provides to the front of their house. You can see in the picture above how it keeps the Sunday morning sun from streaming through their bay window.
In winter the tree protects the front of the house from wind and snow.
And so over many intense discussions about the tree over many years, my dad has somehow managed to hold off mom’s pleas to have it cut down.
And then a couple of months ago, a knock at the door introduced my parents to the National Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis project, an effort by the Service to identify and memorialize notable trees across the United States in an effort to better manage forest resources.
It turns out my parents’ tree is a notable urban tree, and now, it will be monitored by the Forest Service periodically.
And so dad is thrilled and feels vindicated, and mom has agreed that their tree can stay.
Here’s a video explaining the program.