Growing up we had an ash tree in our front yard. It was a ragged and sickly tree, every winter we wondered if it would make it to spring. Eventually we cut it down.
So in my mind I identify ash with sickly, and sure enough, every time I see an ash tree it is sickly, like this one:
But because I am learning to see trees, yesterday I noticed some full, healthy, beautiful ash trees a block from my apartment. I drive by them twice a day, but I never really saw them until yesterday.
I knew there were trees there, but I always assumed they were oaks or something. I was not able to equate “big and healthy” with “ash tree” in my mind.
Now it turns out that ash trees more susceptible to various parasites and viruses than, say, a maple, and are less robust in adverse conditions. The tree lets its limbs die off more readily than other species. That does not mean that there are not beautiful ash trees around if you are looking for them.
This afternoon, guidebook in hand, I ventured out looking for interesting trees. I picked a pretty shrub and correctly identified it as a wild cherry. I then realized there were hundreds of wild cherry trees lining the edges of the fields.
After this summer I doubt I will experience the woods in the same way as in the past.