Locals recall a dead part of their past
The story of the old weeping willow at 2001 Grand Ave. started with one simple branch.In 1947, when Jim Rose was about 10, his grandfather showed him how to pluck a leafy branch from the shade tree on his land on No Name Creek.His grandfather coached him on soaking the branch in water so it could be transplanted to a hole in the ground at 11th and Colorado.”That tree grew to be a beautiful weeping willow,” Rose recalled.Around 1950, a branch from the tree at 11th and Colorado was used to grow the large weeping willow that once stood at 2001 Grand Ave.Now, large pieces of the tree and a stump are all that remain.The top section of the tree near the Safeway store was dead. The weeping willow posed a threat to public safety, so the city said it had to go.”They’re planted because they grow quick and they provide a lot of shade, but they attract bugs and they tend to be weak,” said Al Laurette, public parks superintendent for the City of Glenwood Springs. “It’s unfortunate because it was a good sized tree.”
Like recollections of making doughnuts from fresh buttermilk with her grandmother, Junobelle Rose, Kristen Rose Ensign remembers the willow tree fondly. The tree was once so sprawling it created a tunnel for trucks to drive under on Grand Avenue.”I have a lot of memories as a kid climbing that tree and having picnics under that tree,” she said. “It was huge.”The land on which the tree was planted which Ensign’s grandparents once owned is no longer a potato field with an irrigation ditch running through it.Horses no longer quietly graze near the tree.Paths from childrens’ bicycles don’t criss-cross in the grass and dirt.The area is now home to a parking lot, supermarket, traffic, people. A bank operates where Ensign’s grandparent’s two-story brick house once stood on two acres.And now, one less tree.”I used to love having my grandparents sit on the front porch and watch me do tricks on my bike,” she said.Ensign’s childhood has passed, and so has the life of the weeping willow. Reality hit Ensign a few weeks ago while she was driving down Grand Avenue. Tree cutters had reduced the weeping willow to round sections of wood.”I did a triple take. My heart just sank,” she said. “I felt heartbroken. It seemed so senseless.”Like the growth rate of a weeping willow, change can happen quickly. Sometimes people can stop the course of change, like they did back in 1985.”The city tried this a few years ago and so many people wrote letters and raised so much cane about it,” Rose said. “The city has wanted this for a long time. A lot of the letters were because so many people were upset because the city had cut so many of the cottonwood trees down in front of Sayre Park. It was like driving through a tree tunnel, and they turned so beautifully in the fall.”Sometimes, though, change is inevitable.”The top 20 percent of it was dead, and people were concerned it was going to fall or hurt someone,” Laurette said. “Seeing that kind of decline is what made me want to act rather than wait.”Rose agrees that the dead limbs needed to go. But he doesn’t feel the entire tree had to be cut down, as unceremoniously as chopping fire wood.”I don’t think the right thing was done,” he said, from his ranch south of Silt. “The city takes pride in its parks, so I think they should have done the same with a tree like that.”Ensign said the trees are what she loves about her mountain hometown.”Glenwood is so pretty with so many different kinds of trees,” she said. “It makes Glenwood so special. To see so many trees go away on Grand Avenue is just kind of a bummer.”Laurette said Glenwood Springs has been recognized as a Tree City USA for the last 21 years.”The city spends a certain amount of money on trees each year,” he said.But that doesn’t bring back one particular weeping willow that touched so many lives.”I’m looking at these stumps right now and it’s so sad,” Ensign said.Sometimes the price of progress is subtraction one less tree.Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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