The in car thermometer read 2 degrees as I pulled onto the campus this morning. It is the kind of cold that goes right to the bone, no matter what you wear. The grounds and arboretum crews were on campus at 6am this morning treating the icy patches with a mix of rock salt and sand. The wind chill was in the -15 to -20 degree range while the actual air temperature hovered two clicks above zero. There isn’t much the rock salt does except melt then quickly refreeze. That’s where the sand comes in handy. When the two are applied jointly, the sand is bonded to the ice in the short time between thawing and refreezing. Due to the high winds, putting down only sand, it would have simply blown away.
Unfortunately today, the Arboretum witnessed the removal of a large American elm, Ulmus americana in front of the Dining Center. The tree had been in decline for a number of years and in the fall of 2013 following further evaluation was deemed a hazard and scheduled for takedown over winter break. Last summer you may remember a very large major limb of the tree broke lose on a beautifully calm day. The tree is situated along a heavily travelled thoroughfare. Students pass under the tree multiple times a day going to the dining center. Blue Bus travelers come to the Haverford campus from Bryn Mawr College and have enjoyed it’s shade while passing under. Rather than risking the tree breaking free and doing serious harm to any members of the community, a tough decision had to be made.
Today the Arboretum’s tree contractor, John B. Ward Tree Company was on campus to gently bring down the tree. The crew braved the bitter cold and wind disarming the threat of a catastrophe. The Arboretum will replace in kind the American elm soon in the same vicinity.
The chill of the day has eased out of my bones as I write this and the forecast for tomorrow is for a balmy 26 degrees. Enjoy the heat wave.