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Posted: December 26, 2012 1:00 a.m.

Travis: Floyd Street’s charming trees

My husband and I made what I hope is the last effort to denude the yard of leaves right before Christmas. It was either the third or fourth sweep of the yard this year.

We have it down to a science. I blow the leaves from the edges into the middle of the yard and my husband rides over then with the lawn mower and mulches them up. Sometimes there are so many leaves, the mulched remains leave the yard looking brown, but they disintegrate soon enough.

My husband thinks blowing the leaves from the edges of the yard into the middle is a waste of time. He thinks I should blow them into the flowers and whatever and let them be mulch. First of all, I don't think the driveway needs to be mulched, and secondly, he doesn't realize that those leaves he ignores on the perimeter of the yard tip toe their way back into the middle of the yard as soon as you put the lawnmower up. If he mows before I get out into the yard, the leaves stay on the edges. But if I get out there first, they get blown to the middle and mulched.

I have more trees than I can count on my fingers in my yard. The maple, pecan and dogwood trees are predictable. They turn pretty colors and then lose their leaves, usually by the first of November. I swear the maple loses its leaves overnight. One day the leaves are yellow and on the tree, and the next they are a huge drift of yellow under the tree.

We did have a huge elm tree in the yard at the end of the driveway. It succumbed to the disease that killed most of the elms in the United States. I swear I am not making this up; some kind of tree scientist from the University of Georgia tried to save my elm tree by giving it a shot. Obviously, the shot did not succeed.
But the majority of my trees are oak trees. At least five of them. Oak trees have a whole different take on shedding their leaves. They take the opposite track from the maple. No instantaneous nudity for them.

Oaks are the ecdysiasts of the tree world. They coyly drop their leaves a little at a time and enjoy your ogling them as you wonder how many more leaves are on the tree. They dance in the wind, letting a precious few leaves drift to the ground, and exact the last ounce of anticipation from you before you finally get to see their naked limbs. I swear there are dead leaves still on my oak trees when they begin budding out in the spring.

Despite the upkeep in the fall, I love my trees. I am sure a lot of the charm of Floyd Street is the overarching canopy of leaves which covers the street in many places. The shade these trees offer in the spring and summer is a welcome relief to the walkers, strollers, mothers with baby strollers and joggers who avail themselves of the sidewalks for transportation and exercise. And, believe me, those sidewalks are well used.

I was, therefore, unhappy that the city of Covington chose to cut down two very large and old trees on Floyd Street in November. I can only assume that the city had a reason for their destruction.

The rainforests of South America have been called the lungs of the earth because of the huge amounts of carbon dioxide they consume only to emit oxygen. We need to think of the large old trees of Covington as the lungs of our city and try to preserve them whenever possible.

I hope the city will plant trees to replace the ones that they cut down. I also hope they plant trees that will grow to the size that those trees were, even though I know I will not live to see them at full maturity. As pretty as a dogwood is, we need to replace the large canopy that was lost when those trees were cut down.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at ptravis@covnews.com.

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