They give us floors, furniture, firewood and baseball bats, but people seem to appreciate trees most in their natural, leafy state.
The connection between humans and the big plants became obvious when we asked readers to tell us about their favorite Lexington trees.
Here are a few of the best responses.
Just in time for Halloween, I get to tell Lexington about my favorite tree. You can find it on the walking trail at Ashland, home of Henry Clay ... an old and grotesque catalpa that seems to have sprung from Disney's Snow White, Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow, or the pages of an Arthur Rackham-illustrated fairy tale.
Twisted, gnarled, knotty, its roots stretch out like monstrous tentacles; the patterns in its bark swirl and coil like rapids of a turbulent stream or snakes entwined in a pit. Although its trunk has long been gutted, it lives, year after year, becoming ever more bent and contorted, but still sporting a jaunty bridal veil of spring blossoms and a golden shawl of fall leaves.
I have visited this tree since I was a child living nearby, often riding my bike to Ashland. At that time, more than 50 years ago, the tree displayed a terrifying profile, with squinty eyes and one big convoluted snout like those on the Halloween witches we traced at Cassidy School.
As the years passed, more knobs sprouted, the skin split, the innards decayed, and the visage grew ever scarier; so I continued to be intrigued but frightened by the face grimacing at me. Then life took me away from Lexington, but eventually I returned, and when I visited the tree again after years apart, instead of being repelled, I sensed that we were both glad to see each other again, that the ogre I had imagined was really my silent friend, and that we had always shared a kinship. I visit my tree often, and if nobody is looking I press my forehead against its rough surface. I can't explain the incredible calm that it gives me; perhaps it is an understanding and acceptance of time, change and eternity. My tree is as magical and mystical as it looks.
We are fortunate to live in Headley Green, the site of the former par-3 and putt-putt golf course fondly remembered by many of us. Barlow Homes saved what old trees they could 14 years ago, and one of those is a marvelous old bur oak on the right side of Faircrest about a block in from Mason-Headley Road. It provides good games for our tiny toy fox terrier every fall as the acorns begin to drop. She's supposed to be a mouser, but chasing acorns is the next best thing. They are almost too big for her mouth, but she carries one with her as we walk, and we collect them at home before we go inside. One gentleman comes by yearly to pick up bagfuls to feed the deer on his farm. Old trees are precious, and I hope that this one will continue to be safe.
Many Transylvania University alumni, current students, faculty, and staff love the "Kissing Tree," a huge 100+-year-old white ash in front of the library on Haupt Circle. For past generations of Transy students, it was the most romantic place on campus; the 1940 yearbook has a great photo of a couple under the tree. Today, in nice weather, you'll nearly always see couples sitting on the bench that surrounds the kissing tree, or individuals studying or enjoying a snack in its shade.
I would like to nominate the "Kissing Tree" at Transylvania. It is the neatest old tree, with a lovely bench around the trunk. Back in the day, couples met there to steal a smooch, or meet their date. Today, it is a great shade tree at a campus crossing spot where staff and students can go to relax, enjoy lunch, or just people-watch on campus.
On Alumni Weekend, it is so neat to see older couples sitting there holding hands, or even stealing a smooch.
I have a favorite that is close to downtown and is a good candidate for the protection that may be offered to these "landmarks." It is a sycamore tree that stands between 170 and 172 North Hanover Avenue. I lived in 170 North Hanover for 5 years and have since moved about 6 blocks east, but have always been watchful of this particular tree. It has been slated for cutting a couple of times from what I know, but the tree surgeons involved in both cases I am familiar with refused to cut it down upon seeing the giant. During the ice storm back in 2003, I could hear trees and branches all around cracking and breaking under the pressure, but the giant sycamore simply "shook" the ice off and lost minimal branches. I was afraid a large one would come through the roof, but it weathered the storm with flying colors, showing its resilience. You can see the top of the tree standing above all other trees in the area from the Ashland estate 7 blocks away, which shows how grand it is.