The week after this photo was taken, an afternoon walk revealed city crews removing several of the trees.
It turns out the most graceful of our city trees were ash, and they had succumbed to the emerald ash borer, the nasty Asian insect that feeds on the inner bark of ash trees, and only ash trees. Our local population had evidently been having quite a feast.
Every exposed inch of every dead tree looks like this.
The eastern US has lost millions of ash trees to this accidentally-introduced scourge since 2002. There are now insecticides that can treat individual trees, but the outlook for the wild population is not good.
Our local trail, at least, is not devoted entirely to ash; Marietta learned its lesson when Dutch elm disease took out the more than 1900 elm trees that once lined the city streets. Our urban forest is now more diversified and, blessedly, less prone to vanishing all at once. Just a few yards past the dead dancers, an Ohio buckeye is in full bloom.
And the sweet gums are doing fine.