On October 19, 2003, my eldest son and I planted a tree in our front yard. (I remember the date, because I landed a client that day, the first client of what would eventually morph into the far larger business I still have.) Since then, what had been a stick with a ball of earth at its bottom has grown into a 30-foot-tall tipu tree that shades my lawn and has crested my roof.
This isn’t my particular tree, but it sure looks a lot like it. I got this tree as a sapling those 13 years ago after fierce El Nino winds uprooted our previous tree and felled it across my neighbors’ front yard, its limbs punching holes in their driveway and front yard and narrowly missing their house. (Had it fallen another way, I wouldn’t be writing this post right now.) As a replacement, the City of Burbank offered this tipu tree, because it offers a lot of shade that can cool a house and also cut down on utility bills.
It also needs trimming now and then. A lot of trimming.
In fact, here’s something I just found online:
Tipuana tipu is viewed as an invasive weed in some countries and is known for having a very aggressive root system. The tree roots can easily lift up concrete and asphalt. Precautions should be taken when planting near buildings, homes, or pools, as they are likely to be damaged.
Thanks, City of Burbank. Good thing I planted this near my home.
Regardless of its predatory (or Alien) nature, I still love this tree and do my best to keep it in shape. That’s why I was out there today lopping off branches by hand with a pair of loppers, hopping up and down a ladder, cleaning out my gutters, using the chainsaw when needed, and generally giving this tree the nicest and most necessary haircut since… well, I guess six months ago. I was also up and down that ladder out to the sidewalk, and over into my neighbors’ driveway because, yes, the tree has extended over the sidewalk and over into other people’s greenery. Invasive, indeed.
Once I’d cut out everything I wanted, I of course left all the branches and clippings and cuttings for my children to come break down and put into green waste. Why have children, if you’re not going to do this? They did a fine job, one of them gleefully trading these duties for the right to use the chainsaw occasionally (sure), and the other scowling at me while inventing reasons to need to go tend to the dog, who was utterly fine and needed no tending.
After that, I moved my cleaning crew into the back yard, finally sorting and cleaning up after a yard sale these children had held a few months ago.
Then I went inside and lay not he couch to take a break and the dog jumped up onto my chest… and suddenly it was 40 minutes later or so. Yes, I pretty much passed out, after just three or three-and-a-half hours of yard duty. That seemed strange, until I consulted MyPlate.
MyPlate is an app that tracks your calories — your caloric intake, and also what you burn off through exercise. (It had been called Livestrong, after Lance Armstrong, but for some reason they decided to change its name. Hunh.) Here’s what I learned: that, according to MyPlate, trimming trees by hand consumes 400 calories per hour. Multiply that by two hours and you’ve got 800 calories. And that’s probably without counting the stair stepper — in this case, a ladder — or the back yard cleanup.
Which means that while I was trimming the tree, it was keeping me trim.
So tomorrow night: it’s drinks and cigars with friends.