Commemoration And Celebration Of Merry Maple Proposed

Photo: Britt Crow-Miller

Following Tuesday’s Public Shade Tree Committee public hearing that seemed to predict the removal of the iconic Merry Maple from the North Common later this fall (the final, formal decision rests with Town Manager Paul Bockelman), Britt Crow-Miller, a Senior Lecturer in the UMass Departments of Environmental Conservation and Geosciences, took to Twitter to propose a public history project that would give the beloved tree a proper sendoff by commemorating the role that it had played in its 56 years as the town’s holiday tree.  Her Twitter thread stated:

“ I’d like to propose a public history project wherein a box of some kind is placed by the tree inviting people to write down their memories of and with and around this tree and share them in the box. The narratives, hopefully, from across the decades, could be packaged together in some way and archived at @JonesLibrary to give the community a record of this tree and its contributions to our community. Public trees are important and so is public history. And what better way for the community to bid farewell to this beloved tree than at one final Merry Maple gathering in December. It’s “just” a tree and it sounds silly but I think people need some closure on this chapter, rather than just walking by one day to see it being chain-sawed. I’d love to take a leading role in designing this project.

Crow-Miller elaborated in an email exchange with The Indy, noting that her Twitter thread had already generated interest among folks at the Jones Library and that Town Councilor Ana Devlin-Gauthier (District 5) had been encouraging.  Crow-Miller said

“One of the things I would love to see is some kind of sturdy, weatherproof signage placed near the tree explaining that it will be coming down in the near future (and why) and inviting people to share their memories. We could have a digital submission option and also a physical box (a bit like a large “comment box” set up on site where people can share their memories. It would also be great to invite local school children to visit the tree and put together some responses and perhaps to offer something similar to people as part of one or two of the fall farmer’s markets. These stories could then be assembled in both a physical and digital format to be archived at the Jones.  Several people have also suggested to me that we invite local artists and/or woodworkers to use some of the wood from the tree. It would be amazing, for example, to have a permanent sculpture or some kind of art object made from the tree to display in the newly renovated common. Another resident I talked with suggested having several artists make things (ornaments and dreidels for the holiday season was her idea) and then auctioning them off or selling them to raise money for something related to the town’s schools or public spaces that serve children and future generations.”

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8 thoughts on “Commemoration And Celebration Of Merry Maple Proposed

  1. I love the thoughts on ways to let the Merry Maple live on into the future. My suggestion is to have some the the wood milled into lumber to be used by volunteer woodworkers to build picnic tables for the new park and perhaps a conference table for the new library.

  2. The author’s good intentions miss the point that trees need ongoing care during their lifetime, not memorials after they are destroyed for convenience sake. An arborist informed me the Merry Maple could live another 20 years if cared for properly. Trees, especially older trees, are among the few natural carbon capture sources on the planet and crucial to confronting the Climate Crisis. The days of neglect for trees in forests & in our communities must end. Future generations will be watching what we do in these times.

  3. Ditto Don! Thanks!
    We don’t need commemorations but salvation of dear Merry Maple now. Keep the tree!
    Save our MM, town manager! You are a good enough public server to do it, you and only you can! It is easy to see the huge historical, cultural and natural benefits our MM brings to the ‘Green’ community Amherst is working on. The MM is our ‘green’ symbol for all to see how we care for the environment. I believe you can see the point?

  4. If only people were as passionate about the the abhorrent working conditions of many town employees (e.g., walls of black mold, a regularly leaking roof over the desks of employees in a garage that has no HVAC system, bathrooms that would put you in mind of an abandoned factory building).

    Take a tour:

    Never mind common sense, where is the humanity?

    James Murphy

  5. At the Public Shade Tree Hearing on the Merry Maple, Britt Crow-Miller was clear that she would like the tree to be saved if at all possible. The commemoration idea came later, when it was apparent the decision to cut down the tree was a given, baked into the Town’s plans for the North Common. Crow-Miller’s comments can be heard at 27m25 [].

    Referring to the “extreme measures” the tree warden said would be needed to keep the tree from becoming “a risk tree,” Crow-Miller said, “short of fencing it off, I do think those measures should be taken to preserve this tree for the community for as long as possible.”
    When asked how long he estimated the tree would survive, even if given “radical pruning” to reduce risk, the tree warden estimated less than five years.

  6. I would like to offer a suggestion to move towards a resolution and healing of the unhappy conflict over the removal of the Merry Maple, revered elder tree on the Amherst Common.
    The grief, sadness, and angry outrage about the potential loss of the this beloved, sheltering monarch is running deep.
    Without judgement, or reiteration of the issues involved, would it not be a comfort for all to join in a gesture that reflects the great peace this tree has offered so many for so long?
    What about leaving part of the trunk standing in the ground, and engaging a sensitive sculptor to carve a symbolic image into its wood? A plaque could be installed with words of blessing and remembrance to the Merry Maple. Perhaps some perennial flowers planted around it.
    The tree lives on in the hearts of the community and the site becomes a place of reverence.
    Sincerely, Shen Pauley
    Former Amherst Resident…

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