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I Had Two Pawpaw Trees

 

I had two pawpaw trees, but now I only have one. The new gardeners decided that the trees were in their way; they had already cut down the first pawpaw tree when Mom looked out the window of her bedroom and screamed.

I had no idea what was going on, because I was still sleeping (afternoon naps are a thing). I heard the small scream and then the dogs barking like crazy so I got up. The first thing I saw was a puddle of pee on my exercise mat. I assume Ellie did that when she heard Grandma scream, but it could have been sitting there for a few minutes. I had to focus on cleaning up the pee, so I couldn’t ask Cricket why she was standing at our apartment door barking her head off.

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“Where did Grandma go!”

E pre groom

Loud noises make me pee, Mommy.

Then the doorbell rang, and it was Mom, because she’d run outside so quickly that she forgot her key to the building. That’s when I found out what had happened. Between the scream and the doorbell, Mom had been running across the lawn to convince the gardeners to leave the second Pawpaw tree alone, and then dragging the murdered tree out to the woods, to prepare it for a proper burial.

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Pawpaw branches awaiting burial

I wasn’t taking the information in. I looked out the front door of our building and the bigger pawpaw tree was still there, but fifty feet closer to me, there was a hole. Who cuts down the trunk of a tree like it’s the errant limb of a Forsythia?

The pawpaw trees were both twelve years old and just beginning to flower. My hope was that, very soon, the flowers would lead to fruiting. Actually, we had the tiny beginnings of pawpaw fruit earlier in the summer; a little clump of four pawpaws. I didn’t want to write about it until I knew if the fruit would survive, and within a week, they were gone. We thought they must have been wiped out by heavy rains, but it turns out that the gardeners had knocked down the fragile baby fruit when they were mowing the lawn, and that’s when they decided that the overhanging bushes and trees would have to go. Except, no one mentioned this to us.

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Pawpaw flowers

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clump of baby pawpaws

I was angry, and ranting, and running around like a chicken with my head cut off, but there was nothing I could do.

The powerlessness is what overwhelms me. My mother is the president of our co-op board and no one even told her that the trees were in danger, let alone asked her opinion, or her permission, to take them down. Up until this year we had two maintenance men who knew the trees and knew who to ask when there was a problem with them. They figured this out early, because they’d accidentally knocked down our third pawpaw tree soon after it had been planted in place. But one of the maintenance men retired recently, and the co-op hired a gardening company to come in once a week to make life easier for the remaining maintenance man. The first time they came, Mom told them to stay away from the pawpaw trees, but they seem to have forgotten.

The trees should have had a ribbon around them. Both trees used to be marked, after the incident with the third tree way back when, but we forgot all about it. The trees were so solid, and so tall, that it didn’t occur to us that someone would try to cut them down.

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Pawpaw standing tall

Within minutes, Mom was calling around for advice on how to fertilize a lone tree; and if there was a way to save any part of the murdered tree; or if you could buy a five or six year old pawpaw tree instead of one of the two year olds, to cut down on the long wait for maturity; or, maybe we could borrow pollen from someone else’s pawpaw tree to fertilize the one tree we have left, next year?

The trees were born a few months before Cricket, and they lived in the kitchen until they were toddlers and ready to live outside, still in their pots. When the trees were planted in our new yard, seven years ago, they took root and decided to stay.

pawpaw new home 007

Pawpaw toddler getting ready to go outside

puppy in October 034

Cricket, same age

That tree was loved, that’s all I can say.

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If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Amazon page and consider ordering the Kindle or Paperback version (or both!) of Yeshiva Girl. And if you feel called to write a review of the book on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Izzy. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. Izzy’s father then sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, as if she’s the one who needs to be fixed. Izzy, in pain and looking for people she can trust, finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

 

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

121 responses »

  1. kimyates887gmailcom

    The dog look’s adorable ❤️ Like reading your
    stories 🙂 Thanks for posting!! 😁

    Reply
  2. Rachel, I’m sad to learn that a lawn company, of all people, would have such disrespect for nature! I’m glad your mom screamed and saved the last one in time!

    I always enjoy your posts!

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  3. Rachel–I am so sorry. The trees were in the way? That is so much BS. They just didn’t want to have to watch for them. New neighbors said the same thing about some trees of ours that hung over their grass. On a side of the house they never, ever use. Give me a break–you crazy nature haters! I hope someone can help with the other pawpaw tree.

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  4. This breaks my heart, and makes me furious. I guess you can’t fire the landscrapers. That picture of baby Cricket is adorable though. I really hope the hormones work with the remaining branch. I am just sick about it though.

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  5. I’m so sorry. Many landscapers don’t develop a relationship with their trees, mores the pity.

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  6. Oh man, I’m so sorry this happened!!🥵

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  7. Weaving Simplicity

    So sorry to hear this. Baby Cricket is adorable!

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  8. So sorry about the Pawpaw tree. Glad your mom was able to save the other one and hope the limb from the other one will sprout and thrive. I wonder if the lawn company even asked, or if they just cut it down on their own. If they weren’t knowledgeable, I could see how they might think it was just an overgrown shrub that needed pruning. Cricket’s baby picture is adorable!

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  9. So sorry to hear about your pawpaw tree. Why are people so intent on cutting trees down–any tree? Don’t they know how vital they are? 😦

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  10. How sad. And to think they were also getting rid of the fruit, too. I’d try to get the board to hire a different company, if possible. And poor Ellie. I’ve never seen Cricket’s puppy pictures before. What a sweetie.

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  11. I can understand your sentiment and your mom’s. The cut down should not have happened without your permission. °🐟🐟~

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  12. Aww sorry to hear about your poor tree. That picture of little Cricket is sooo cute!!

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  13. Heartbroken for you and your mum. How lucky that she was able to take such quick action. I read in the comments that she may have found a miracle substance that can help one branch to survive. Fingers crossed. Keep us posted.

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  14. I am so sorry to read of your pawpaw loss. I hope you and your mom can find a mature replacement. I can’t believe the gall and ignorance of the hired gardeners.
    Your wee doggies add to every blog story, happy, sad, or simply pensive.

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  15. Love the picture of wee Cricket!

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  16. A top notch landscaping company would have asked its customers how they wanted things done and reviewed it before each trip. It wouldn’t have taken a whole lot of effort or extra time.

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  17. Sorry to hear about the loss of one of your trees. I know how you can grow attached to anything living you put time and heart into. I’ve got three avocado trees growing in a very large pot right now, and they now stand nearly seven feet tall. So I need to get them planted in the yard and hope they survive the transition. I grew them from the internal seed of some avocados we purchased at a store about three years ago. It’s something of a personal adventure in plants, to go along with my adventures with cats and dogs.

    I very much liked the Cricket puppy picture. They all look like little angels at that point in their lives.

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  18. Another tale of a thoughtless crime against Nature, good-hearted people and their family (four footed members duly noted). I know you are a wise and forgiving teller of tales and protector of the innocent. And…that most of your followers are sweet and good people as well. So, I hope none of you will mind when I tell you that after reading of the needless demise of the paw paw trees, I asked Dark Gods to fall upon those morons that killed them. You are very far away from the where I am wishing from so maybe the faux “landscapers” won’t suffer too badly…. Maybe it will only be a few weeks of terrifying dreams that have them wake up screaming; dreams they will remember for the rest of their lives. Vengeance, of course, is never the answer. But, well, sometimes it is necessary.

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  19. As much as I love living alone in a rented flat, one thing I do miss is having fruit growing in my backyard. In Brisbane and Darwin, I had pawpaws, mangoes, and lychees.

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  20. Oh dear ! I wish they had not cut it. They should plant a new one for you. Tell them not to cut the one you still have.

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    • I agree — it’s on the gardening company to plant a new one. Even if they plant a small one that will take longer to mature, that doesn’t prevent you and your mom from getting a third, more mature tree, and ultimately having three. There needs to be some consequence for them, some responsibility they take. But oh the lessons we learn!! Do mark them again somehow. Make a sign that says: “These are precious paw-paw trees. Do not touch, prune, cut or in any other way interfere with their natural growth and production of fruit.” Maybe show these thoughtless workers what they CAN clear out, and give the trees center stage. This might help them from ripping and tearing at will. (I can’t even call them gardeners because the gardeners I know would cringe at this ignorance and stupidity.) I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost a precious tree recently too (https://anunboringpath.com/2019/06/20/a-mighty-oak-meets-the-earth/) and I know how awful that felt even though, in my case, it had to come down.

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  21. I know how you feel! Gardeners are the worst they come cut, blow and try to keep things in order in the meantime they destroy! I had grown 2 lilacs trees from seed after they were 3 feet tall the gardener pulled them told us he taught they were weeds! I cried for days they were my babies!

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  22. They cannot be knowledgeable in their trade, if they just cut down a healthy tree without asking about it. It sounds to me like your building needs to hire a new gardening contractor, and investigate their credentials beforehand.
    I’m sad for the loss of your much-loved tree, Rachel.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  23. So sorry to hear about the paw paw tree. Trees can be majestic and comforting. Nature must not be taken lightly. Hope your baby paw paw replaces the hole in your garden and your heart.

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  24. Oh, that was so sad! Isn’t cutting trees illegal? The authorities should be informed about the plight of your pawpaw trees.
    The Catalyst

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  25. So sorry for the loss of the pawpaw tree. Cutting a tree down seems like such a terrible waste in the scheme of life. While no amount of apologies can replace your tree, I do hope there is some bit of justice exacted.

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  26. Rachel, I feel your pain. I’ve battled for years over my crepe myrtles with the subcontractors my power company hires. Once brave bush survived for years after being repeatedly cut down and poisoned. The final cutting did it in. Too many “landscape” companies know little to nothing about plants. Those jerks should buy you a new tree.

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  27. Horrible crime! They are just hired, underpaid individuals and don’t care!

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  28. Isn’t there some type of action you can take against the company who cut down the tree? Was the tree on property you own? Or is the tree in a common area of your r co-op? Either way it seems to me that someone needs to be held accountable. Sorry if I am exasperating the situation for you but I am angry just reading about this and can only imagine the rage you must have/still feel. I recall from an earlier post the time and effort it took you to nurture and cultivate these trees…

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  29. My condolences. We live in an entitled, lack of common sense world. Nobody uses whatever manners they may have either, it seems. Here I live in an “HOA” (Homeowners Association) and I deliberately chose one because they do the yard work and shoveling of snow in the winter. I can no longer physically handle that sort of stuff any more. We got swindled into a five year iron clad contract with a really poor excuse for a lawn care company. The term is up after this year and they won’t be re-hired. They’ve broken sprinkler heads off, nicked siding and vinyl fencing with their weed whackers, killed trees by repeatedly hitting them with mowers or whackers, ruined flower beds. This year someone started making those idiots accountable for each mistake they made and making the company pay for repairs to damaged property. It’s lessened (a little) the occurrences. Your post reminded me of our HOA and the rather stupid stance they’ve taken on what’s appropriate for trees or bushes a home owner might want. Nobody talks to anyone any more. A simple knock at the door would have done much for your situation. I’m sorry nobody had the common sense to do that. Thank goodness for the vigilance of your mother!

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  30. I am furious for you. I live in the country, no one comes on our land and cuts anything down without our permission. I wish I had pawpaw trees so I could send you one. I don’t know if that’s possible, but I would if I could. (I had a very loud and angry confrontation with a man from the electric company who decided he was cutting a tree that we had specifically asked about when we built the house and were told it was not in any way a problem. He told me he could do what he wanted. Umm, no, you can’t. We still have the tree)

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  31. Bloody typical! Cutting down trees with no thought, let alone permission! Poole council did that to the trees in our road, and I sent an email demanding to know where my tits were going to sit. We had fledglings who rested on the trees in mid maiden flight. We came home to find a tree of the hawthorn variety (no spikes) in a tub by our front door.

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  32. Grrrr. Sorry about your tree. Sometimes the electric company sneaks around our neighborhood cutting people’s trees back in idiotic ways. I get that they don’t want outages, but their sense of aesthetics in none existent!

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  33. Losing a tree is like like losing a friend! Especially when you have nurtured it for so long. I have a potted orange tree that has been with me for 46 years!! In the house in the winter and out in the summer. These plants, like our dogs, are best friends and it is sad to see something so callous happen to them.

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  34. Sorry for the loss of the Pawpaw Tree but glad Grandma was on the ball and saved the second one. I would not have recognized what it was but then I am not a Gardner and I feel that persons who calls themselves Gardners, should have recognized a fruit tree. I have a large Almond tree and have been trying to nurture a Mulberry tree, but as I say, I am not a gardner, but I try. Again, glad you were able to save the second one.

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  35. I am angry with you that they didn’t ask before cutting down a tree! Trees can be so special and over years of seeing a tree grow, I feel that a person can even have a relationship with a tree. When I was growing up, we had a couple trees behind our house that my sister and brother and I had even named. I would be very sad to learn that a tree that I cared about was cut down like a weed.

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  36. Noooo! I’m not surprised you were all so angry & devastated, I would have been, too. Such disrespect for nature, but also for the people who would have been affected by it, it’s disgusting that you weren’t told beforehand.xx

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  37. So sad about your tree. Hopefully saving the branch works. If the stump is still standing maybe you will get lucky and it will grow some new branches. We have a pear tree someone ran into with a bulldozer last spring leaving nothing but a jagged stump. We thought it was dead for sure, but that dead-looking scarred stump has sprouted several branches.

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  38. What a cute baby pic of Cricket!

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  39. I too lovedmy paw paw tree but it sadly looked like it was going to fall into my neighbours carport and I had to cut it. I cried.
    I rescued a baby one and planted it, without it rooting. Guess what, it’s taken and seems happy. 🙂

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  40. So sorry. I wish you lived near me I have a dozen baby paw paw trees in need of homes.

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  41. I too get attached to trees. Last year the magnificent beech next to our home had to come down since it was dying and splitting and threatening two garages. I miss it. In 1960 Oregon had its one and only hurricane and it took out thousands of trees, including a magnificent butternut that I loved. I was even attached to your paw paw trees after reading about them. My love.

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  42. This makes me sick. 12 years of love and care and finally after all that time, the paw-paws began to show signs of production and then someone decides to take it upon themselves to rid the world of them. Thanks goodness your Mom intervened and saved one of them. I just read in a comment that you made that your Mom found some info on a possible way to get some of the branches to grow from the cut tree. I hope it works and the trees will once again thrive for you and you’ll have a small forest of them. I agree, that would be wonderful.

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  43. I hate to lose trees, especially ones that I planted and groomed over the years. 😦 Plant anew. – Your friends at DogDaz Zoo

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  44. That truly is a shock, something as loved and beautiful as the tree just ripped from the ground-I’d be bloody angry too !

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  45. As much as I like saying pawpaw aloud, I am sorry for the loss of your beloved tree.

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  46. DOGS AND TREES GIVE SO MUCH PLEASURE AND ASK NOTHING IN RETURN, GREAT BLOG AND PHOTOGRAPHS RACHEL, CHINA

    china.alexandria@livingthedream.blog

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  47. Oh no, oh no! I was being honest when I commented on your last pawpaw post that I was now intrigued by the fruit tree and fruit and flowers. I am feeling this loss personally (proportionally insignificant compared to yours, I know). All I can say is “oh, no,” this is so sad, and I’m so sorry.

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  48. What kind of lawn service decides on their own to cut down a tree just for their convenience? I would be upset too.

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  49. So sorry to hear this Rachel. The Baby Cricket is adorable!https://artoffood963672556.wordpress.com/blog/

    Reply

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