Thanks all for the comments, critiques and suggestions.
In RAW, this image was rather flat (and quite blue) and I must admit I struggled mightily and spent a lot of time trying to balance the tones and the struggle between too flat and too contrasty. In fact, by the time I reached the current version, I must of had at least 7 iterations saved, for comparison, done in three different conversion programs. Some were more contrasty while others were less. I finally settled on this version. As to the cropping, or not, while I have no philosophical issue with cropping an image if required, my reasons were twofold for not cropping - I wanted to have as much space around the tree to "enhance" the feeling of "lone", the other is, after spending a small fortune on my D3X with a, then, large real estate sensor, I cringe every time I contemplate reducing that acreage. In closing, this is one of those images that I will probably re-visit and re-process forever and never be completely happy with the result.