So my tree guy and I were talking the other day. He had just finished removing the stump of an enormous and notoriously photogenic fiery maple tree that stood on our front lawn for the last 100 years. That is an estimate. I didn’t count the rings.

We knew this tree was on its last, uh, limb even before a minor ice storm last month brought down one of its largest branches, blocking both our and the next-door neighbor’s driveways.

My tree guy — he is also our mulch guy, our plant guy, our landscaping guy and just an all-around good guy — had warned us. The trunk was mostly hollow, he told us a few months back. The tree was already down several branches from a decade ago.

Still, it persisted.

In fact, the tree closed out this past fall, like it did every fall, with a breathtaking overnight explosion of color before quickly dropping its leaves.

When the January ice storm hit, it was as if the tree suddenly realized its work here was done. Tired of waiting for us to put it out of its considerable misery, it saw its chance. As soon as the sun went down, it took it.

By 8 o’clock the next morning, our tree guy had arrived at the scene. By 5, he and his crew had ushered the remains of our beloved fiery maple to that giant woodpile in the sky.

With only the wood chips from the ground stump left where the tree once grew, my tree guy and I now stood on my porch, contemplating the future of our front yard and bemoaning the good health of the gum ball tree that remained. Oh, why do bad things only happen to good trees?

There was something else on my tree guy’s mind that he wanted me to know.

“The people who walk by, they are asking about your tree,” he told me. “They want to know why you took it down. It was such a beautiful tree.” Some didn’t think removing it was such a good idea, he noted gently.

I understood what my tree guy was telling me. Passersby were judging us. We were being tree-shamed.

The unspoken suggestion: we should have done more to save it.

“I tried to explain,” the tree guy added.

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that I just committed a serious breach of tree guy-homeowner confidentiality. You are probably also thinking you want the name of my tree guy.

Because here’s the thing:  we live in a world where things sometimes get old and die. And it’s getting harder to find people who you trust will have your back and help you deal with it. 

PLUS, who can pick out a quality rose bush? That’s my tree guy.