Friday, November 8, 2013

Can't See The Forest For The Trees

I've been meaning to blog for a couple weeks but something or other prevents me from doing so.  Is it really so much trouble to open the laptop, connect to the blog site and write? That's not the hard part.  I have to have my pictures ready to publish and sometimes that's just too much trouble.  Well, enough on how darn lazy I've become.  The belated topic today is TREES.  I am a bit of a tree hugger.  I love them--the bigger the better.  I appreciate the work it takes to grow a tree and really love the old ones with all their characteristic gnarls, twists, turns, zigs and zags.  They represent life in general as they persevere against all odds to grow tall and strong.  When we bought our current house in 1994, we loved the trees on the then 14 year old lot.  They provided shade from the brutal Fresno summers sun and gave us some privacy from the too-close neighboring homes.  I could lay on my bed and look out right into the middle of the huge Chinese Elm tree right outside the second story bedroom window and make myself think that I lived in a big tree house.

When I was in grade school, we lived in an old home in Eureka, Illinois.  It was then about 50+ years old and full of nooks and crannies.  My bedroom on the second floor had seven windows marching along the two outside walls.  There were big trees in the lawn that were in the right place for me to envision that I lived in them.  I would look out those windows for a long time just imagining what it would be like to be a member of the Swiss Family Robinson.  My last memory of that room was the day we moved to a newer home.  I stood in my empty room at one of the windows with tears in my eyes wondering if I would ever have another bedroom like that one.  The one I have now isn't the same but it's close.  Or should I say it WAS close...

Last week we had 8 trees removed from our property--three big Chinese elms and five smaller
volunteers that cropped up and outgrew their locations.  Our property isn't big and we have a pool that takes up half of the back yard.  If you're not familiar with Chinese Elms, they grow fast and big with large outstretching canopies that provide wonderful shade.  They also have millions of tiny leaves that clog gutters, drains, pool pumps and walkways when they fall--in our case twice a year.  They also attract a certain insect that leaves a sticky residue on the leaves and anything that happens to be around it, such as a car parked in a driveway. The leaves are so sticky that it's impossible not to track them into the house.  In one of our rare thunderstorms, they can be several inches deep on the surface of the pool so you can't even see the water.  Every single one of them has to be removed by manually skimming them or through the skimmer basket.  Sometimes it takes only minutes to fill the basket.  The roots are so invasive that part of the pool decking is lifting and all the sidewalks have huge bumps.  The neighbors on both sides have complained for years about their fear of the roots breaking up the foundations on their houses.  Dave's been complaining of that, too but I wouldn't hear of cutting down "MY" tree!

But, it had to be done.  It was sad but it would be sadder to be sued by a neighbor and having to pay to replace their foundation ( or ours).  The time had come.  The guys who did the work were amazing.  Using principles of physics and geometry, they used ropes to drop the newly cut limbs precisely where they wanted them.  The one closest to the bedroom window was huge and they only had a few feet to work with between our house, the fence and the neighbor's house.  It was fascinating to watch as they shouted in Spanish to each other.  They also seemed to be having a good time wielding their chain saws and making a calculated mess.
When it was all over, I dreaded looking out of my window.  As I scurried from room to room to assess the view damage I was surprised at what I saw.  My trees were gone but I now had a chance to see what had been behind them all these years and was for the most part, pleasantly surprised.  I saw trees that I never knew existed.  The new abundance of sunlight is welcome now as fall and winter approaches but I'm not so sure what it will feel like next summer.  Surely the A/C bills will soar.  Too bad we didn't have that extra $40,000 burning a hole in our bank account when we first considered solar.  We'll just have to deal with the heat next year.  For now, bright is nice.

It's actually quite nice now that the trees are gone.  Since we don't burn wood in our fireplace and didn't need the wood, our neighbors took it off our hands and things are pretty well picked up.  Of course, now that everything is exposed we see that our fence is almost ready to fall so we have to replace that.  Also, the vines that were hidden by the trees are completely out of control so we need to do some more cleanup there.  Also, there are years and years of dead leaves formerly trapped in the roots, trunk and limbs of the trees that now need to be cleaned out.  I love working outdoors but have felt so lousy in the past several years that I haven't done anything outside.  I'd love to get out there and work but can't do as much as I want to.  Also, our gardeners have had it way too easy.  Now they will have to stay for longer than 10 minutes to do their weekly landscaping.  With everything exposed, there's a bit more work involved.

Our neighbors have commented that things look better now.  The house does look a bit more magnificent and bigger.  Things do look tidier.  All in all, it has been a good thing.  Sometimes drastic change is what's needed in my life to make me realize that what I hold on to so tightly may not be what I really want.  Good life lesson!

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