Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Severed memories

I woke up to this today. (Note photo.)


Yes. Gasp.

I peered into the front yard like I always do when I switch off the porch light, saw the carnage, and had to remind myself there was no storm yesterday...though I did suddenly recall the sound of buzz saws late into the night.

Grrr.

A little backstory here: My subdivision was built in the 60s. I gravitated to this neighborhood because it reminded me of the ones I grew up in – with my fondest memories being those of the mature trees that surrounded us. I remember huge Maple trees and their “whirlybirds.” I remember raking leaves,  jumping in leaf piles, trying to build a leaf house (really), and re-raking leaves at dusk after we’d played in them all day.

After my parents had a house built, there were no mature trees on any of the lots, but there was a forest at the center of the subdivision. Yea, boy, those were the days. Hiking along those trails with my brother CJ, trying to catch crawfish in the creek with mom’s leftover steak (oops), encountering snakes, and running away from imaginary sounds that seemed so real at 13.

So fast forward to present day, with my cottage-like house and mature trees in the yard, up and down the streets and overhanging every nook and cranny of this neighborhood. Even when I found out two weeks after we moved in that the trees would prevent me from getting Dish because we couldn’t get a satellite signal, I forgave them and grudgingly accepted being sentenced to cable.

Then we got new neighbors. I was glad to see the empty house occupied. But shortly after they moved in, Mr. Neighbor came to my door, knocked and informed me that he was getting his trees trimmed and did I want his guys to cut my trees to. I declined. From the pile of logs I could see in his yard, they were doing a little more than trimming. A week later, he got Dish. Two dishes on his roof, as a matter of fact.

No biggie. But over the last two years, more and more of the trees on his property have disappeared. Great branches are ritualistically lopped off, where they tumble in our yards, get chopped up, and are eventually hauled away. Maybe it’s the artist in me, but when I look into the sky and see half a tree missing, well, it’s just weird.

That brings me to this morning and the branches in the yard. I heard the sawing last night. It had to be after 10:00. But I had no idea that the trees were again under attack. It makes me sad.

I’m sure part of Mr. Neighbor’s concern is the threat of storm damage. We’ve certainly had trees topple in massive storms, but more often than not, damage has been minimal.  And, too, 50-year-old trees can disrupt sewer lines and sidewalks and create challenges to growing lush lawns. I understand his probable concerns, I just don’t like his resolution.

To make a stretch analogy here, moving into a subdivision with mature trees and then cutting down all the trees reminds me of readers who pick up books by me and my romance writing colleagues and then get mad because as African American writers, our stories aren’t street lit.

Don’t want happily-ever-afters? Stick with urban fiction. Don’t want the bother of trees? Move into a new development.

The sawing continued all day today. I even met the man in charge of the operation -- and fussed about the huge holes left in my lawn by falling tree chunks. He assured me they would fill them and provide grass seed to restore the lawn. No consolation though. I can buy topsoil and grass seed myself.

Then, as my daughter and I were wrapping up our afternoon bike ride, Mr. Neighbor came out with a huge grin, waving and shouting, "It looks nice, doesn't it? What do you think?"

"I like the trees."

He explained about falling branches during storms, how this company had provided him with a great deal and again reassured me, "It looks nice, doesn't it?"

Call me ungrateful. Tree trimming is expensive and it didn't come out of my pocket. When the next storm rolls around there will be fewer branches to unleash at our roof tops. True.

But apparently, I am absolutely sentimental about some things: I suppose looking out my kitchen window to watch squirrels play tag up and down tree trunks, seeking shade that rustles on a hot summer day, and long ago memories of climbing trees, are just a few of them.

Stefanie
 

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