2011.06.22 No end to the Siberian elm

Written by David Green.


The Siberian elm is certainly my least favorite tree. We had quite a sizable one growing in our side yard until the infamous Middle School Awards Night Straight-Line Thunderstorm of 2000.

The wind only brought some of the tree’s heavy branches down—including one that made a hole in our roof—but we had it cut after that. We had already spent more than enough ice storm nights listening to crashes onto the roof from its branches dropping.

What I don’t like about the tree isn’t so much its state as a handsome mature visitor from eastern Siberia. It’s the dozens of little sprouts that come up everywhere. I’ll be trimming Siberian elm for as long as I live here.

That’s what I was doing Saturday afternoon instead of doing what I should have been doing—creating stories for a newspaper.

I was trimming elm, cutting through dozens of ivy tendrils that are trying to take over our house, and pulling out grapevine and thistle when I realized how odd my job is.

For example, I went to Fayette Friday night to cover the Civil War program at the Opera House. I enjoyed it very much and I had some good conversations with people afterward.

But everyone who attended the event is done with it. The program is over. But I have to “enjoy” it all over again while writing a story about it. 

This is all very obvious and I should have realized it before in the past 30 years, but that’s my life over and over again. I go to a ball game and when it ends, that’s pretty much the end for everyone there, except me. I have to go through it all again and put it into words.

I go to a council meeting, go home and live through it all again. What a weird existence. Everything in double.


A couple of weeks ago I received an amusing report from Morenci native Herb Camburn who lives in California. I think his tale sets a record for bad newspaper delivery. The non-deliveries don’t count; only those papers that eventually reach the subscriber are eligible for consideration.

“I just brought in the Observer that the mailman just delivered. I didn’t glance at the date but thought that the photo on the front of a kid and pumpkins was a little strange for the month of May.

“When I checked the date at the top it was: Wednesday, September 29, 2010. Boy, the U.S. Postal Service has really outdone themselves this time!

“I think this is really amazing. I have absolutely no idea where this paper has been lurking for eight months! In any case, most of the papers have been arriving in pretty good time now.”

I don’t know if “amusing” is really the word to use here. A little sad, actually. We continue to receive complaints from subscribers about poor delivery, along with occasional reports of very good delivery. A subscriber in one Florida city, for example, will get the paper on Saturday or Monday while someone in another part of Florida might get two at a time or an older one before a new one, or none at all.

I remind people of the option to download the electronic version (the photographs look so much better), but a lot of people just want newsprint in their hands.


One more newspaper update. A few weeks ago I wrote about “my other wife” and mentioned this incident:

I was rubbing [my wife’s back] and mentioned something about the scar on her leg from the motorcycle. I must have been half asleep. Colleen has never been on a motorcycle, but I know I’m not making this up. Someone, one of my other wives, was once burned by a motorcycle exhaust pipe. If you’re reading this, let me know. I’d like to clear this one up.

An out-of-town subscriber read that account—someone a year behind me in school—and she knew exactly who it was that suffered the leg burn. That may be so, but it was no one I ever dated, so I’m still wondering about this one.


It’s now a day later and I’ve finished the Civil War story. I have to admit, I enjoyed the show all over again. It wasn’t an unpleasant chore at all to recreate the program for others to read. 

I don’t even want to think about how few people will actually take the time to read it. If I start doing that, doubts about my career will spread like Siberian elm.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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