Tree transformed in West Shelby backyard

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 September 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

WEST SHELBY – It was about 35 years ago when Rob and Marcia Cook’s daughter Carrie came home with a tiny tree in a coffee cup. She got the little tree on a field trip.

The Cooks planted the white pine in their back yard on Salt Works Road. They would plant hundreds of other trees on what had been a hay field.

But about a year ago Mr. Cook noticed disease was killing some of the trees, including the one he planted with his daughter. The Cooks took down some of the trees, not wanting the disease to spread and wipe out all of the trees.

But they were reluctant to remove white pine their daughter brought home from school. They cut down most of it, but left an 8-foot-high stump. A wood carver put their last name in it and fashioned a sculpture of a green heron. Those birds are frequent guests in their back yard. The family lives near the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

“It’s sentimental,” Mr. Cook said about the tree. “We wanted to keep it.”

I met the Cooks last week when I went to their house to get a picture of Kay Van Nostrand visiting Mrs. Cook’s mother Adelia Hellert. The Cooks have an impressive property, a nature wonderland.

Mr. Cook said residents from the Orchard Manor often come out to sit near his back yard pond and to listen to the birds. The harsh winter killed many of his fish in the pond, but he is restocking and looking forward to welcoming more guests, especially his 11 grandchildren.