The mighty coastal oak by my bedroom window was an estimated 75 years old with another 125 years to go, according to a local arborist. However, the additional life time applied only if the tree remained healthy, which it did not. Its enemies were many, led by a long-term drought that weakened its immune system. The attackers were fungus and other diseases unknown to me. The final dagger was the bark beetle. A fine layer of saw dust coated the branches. The bark was separating. Finally, this year, there were no leaves and the tree was pronounced dead and declared an imminent danger.
The people who removed the tree this past week were experts. It took five hours for this once giant tree to be cut up and lifted over my house, piece by piece, by crane.
The tree service workers, standing under the hot sun, say oaks and pines are dying all over the county. Who knows when it will rain next?
The arborist looked at me and said, “It’s the life cycle. It’s sad, but it happens. Plant another oak.”
But the positive planting conditions of 75 years ago don’t exist today. More homes, less water and more invasive insects are reshaping the life cycle of trees along California’s coast.