Every recap of the wild stormy ride Nature gave the Twin Cities this weekend must start with gladness that no human lives were lost.
But oh, the trees.
The urban forest in the heart of the metro area, Minneapolis, took a beating Friday night that left residents of many blocks to cope with the loss of one or more leafy giants.
Trees are among the most beloved of plants. They're part of the architecture of a street and a neighborhood. They are sources of welcome additions to urban life -- shade, color, sound, the animation of birds and squirrels. Yes, they can also drip sap on cars and sprinkle sticks on sidewalks and seeds on flowerbeds. But those are minor irritations, especially from giants as grand and elderly as many Minneapolis trees have become.
Elderly -- and frail, city dwellers learned as they looked closely at the fallen ones. In many cases, when giant trunks broke, disease was revealed inside. A strong wind was all it took to snap them.
Quickly and unceremoniously -- too much so, some might say -- these old friends are being dispatched with power saws, to then be sawn into firewood and chipped into mulch, their last gifts to humankind. Minneapolis residents will debate how best to replace them and shore up the urban forest's defenses against disease as well as storms.
This year's city election campaign has gained a new topic, and an entire region has gained new appreciation of the value of trees. That, too, is the fallen trees' gift.
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