Photo above or at left: The “Mother Tree” amid periwinkle vinca blooms last spring.
We have a bit of survivor’s guilt about the Nunn Fire because we were very lucky in that our home did not burn, and so the loss of one tree should not be that much. But this laurel (aka: bay, pepperwood) tree was huge, and one of the largest bay trees anywhere, possibly made up of three or four trees that grew together over hundreds of years above a natural spring. It was directly below our cottage and Lynne called it the “mother tree.” When kids came to visit she would take them down to “sit in the lap of the laurel.” It was a destination for returning children.
During the fire, the flames probably entered the base of it through the large hole left by a cut branch in the foreground of the photo below, and eventually 3/4 of the tree came down. I once stuck a measuring tape in that hole and it went in eight feet, but I thought the tape was reaching along a tube left by the former branch, not crossing a small cavern. The tree was down when we returned, so we do not know exactly when during the two weeks we were evacuated that it fell, or how long it burned before it fell.
With our driveway blocked by the fallen tree, it was an adventure to have to reach our house by crossing an orchard and coming in from the back. But with winter coming we knew we needed the driveway back. Fortunately, we have…
Neighbors with Tools
Six workers, five chainsaws, three chain changes, two vintage Jeeps, 10 wedges, one mallet, and one Case 80 tractor were all that was needed to clear our driveway of the tree the next Saturday morning. Thanks very much to neighbors Charlie Schwing, the chainsaw master, Jaye Cook, Jeff “Case 80” Miller (who instigated the work party), Jim Schaff and Alice Kubler for all the hard work. (Photos below by myself or Alice.)