This is Kate's Mayday. It arrived in 1990 as a wedding gift certificate to Sunnyside Garden Centre from a neighbour. It was a puny 1" caliber and a mere 7 feet tall in spring of 1991. It seems to symbolize something about this house and yard, this carefully tended garden that Kate has owned in Upper Hillhurst since 1974. This is how the tree looked in early May 2013.
For much of its 27 years, Kate's Mayday has received the attentions of arborist Kevin Lee. He lived two blocks away until recently. Kevin pointed out the black knot in spring, showed Kate how and what to prune off in the fall and checked in the spring to see how Mayday had weathered the winter.
There were bad years when Mayday lost branches in late spring snowstorms, followed by the great years when half the house was obscured by the riot of white blossoms. From year to year, this tree heralded the arrival of spring, the end to another long winter and jogged Kate's winter weary mind into high gardening gear.
We go away every fall for a week around Labour Day weekend. Have done for years… and then rejuvenated and laden down with Okanagan fruit, we return home to start harvesting our own garden. On September 10, 2014, we were just into our week away when an early and heavy snowstorm pummelled the City of Calgary with 10cm of wet snow. The City took a hit. Over half of the 2 million trees within the city had some damage.
Mayday took a serious hit.
These photos came by text message from our friend Dave Quan who was looking after the house while we were away. Panic ensued. Do we cancel our trip and go home? Call Kevin Lee first. It took hours for us to get through because KRL's phone was flooded with calls for assistance. Kevin's first question was “What do you need?” so I sent him the photos and got back a message that he was going over to look and would take care of things.
For Kate the wait was interminable. Then finally the message “We can fix this.” And the next morning Kevin and Jane spent the morning in, on and around Kate's Mayday. Reducing the canopy and therefore the weight of the large limb on the ground – it was close to 1/3 of the entire Mayday. Carefully lifting the limb back into place. Bolting it together and testing its strength.
Mostly it was an act of love — from someone who truly loves trees to someone who truly loves them too.
What else is there to tell? Perhaps that Mayday is blooming now in May of 2016. And she looks well.