Sunday, March 23, 2014

Living in a Construction Zone and a Tough Decision

We have been living in a construction zone since last fall. The gas/electric company is putting in new underground lines. All of the snow we had this winter stalled them, but things have been back in full swing the past month. We wake up to the sound of jackhammers and trucks beeping as they back up. Doesn’t make for a fun way to start each work day, as well as Saturday. One morning I couldn't figure out why my snooze alarm wasn’t working and well, it wasn’t my snooze alarm, it was the sound of the beeping trucks.

This is what it looks like outside our front door.

This is what it looks like down our street.

It’s like driving an obstacle course each morning just to get out of our neighborhood to work each weekday.

Some of the lines are going under the sidewalk. When I saw how far down they were digging under the sidewalk next to our biggest tree, I knew that tree was in trouble. Contrary to what most people think, the majority of a tree’s roots are within the first few inches of the ground. They dug down at least 6 feet, if not more.

One day there was a knock on the door and it was a man from the town’s Shade Tree Commission. I’m familiar with Shade Tree Commissions because I know someone who is on the commission for the town we used to live in. (When we moved, we only moved two blocks away, but we are in a different town now.) The man voiced his concern about the bigger of our two curbside trees and said that in his opinion, it would either die or fall due to the damage that the gas/electric company had done. Even though my knowledge of trees is extremely limited, I knew he was probably right. This silver maple was already much too large of a tree to have been planted here and had already outgrown its spot.

The Shade Tree Commission man also said that this smaller tree was possibly in danger, too, especially since it is already leaning towards the street, but might have a chance of survival.

He said that if we wanted one or both of the trees taken out, the gas/electric company would do it for free (although they probably would leave the sumps for us to take care of). I told him I understood the concern and wouldn’t want our trees falling on the power lines or houses across the street (because that would be the way they’d fall), but that I don’t like taking down trees unless I really have to and wanted to make sure I was making an informed decision. I told him I wanted to check with my friend who is on the neighboring town’s Shade Tree Commission and get back to him. The man was very understanding and seemed to appreciate the fact that I was concerned about the trees. He said that normally they like to replace any trees that are taken down with new trees, but that the township had an ordinance that they can’t plant any trees within 8 feet of the new gas and electric lines. Our front yard is barely 12 feet deep or so.

The bigger of the two trees is probably 50 years old, possibly more. It defines the landscape of our front yard. It provides a lot of shade and adds to the character of our house. It is the biggest tree within several blocks. This isn’t a decision that I take lightly.

Here is the tree in front of our house back in August of 2005, when we first bought the house. Look at that beautiful dappled shade. Our house was built in 1881 and it just seems appropriate that there would be a big tree in the yard.

This photo was taken the same day and shows the smaller tree on the other side of the driveway.

It is so hard for me to imagine our house without those two trees.

This is what it looks like now, at the very beginning of spring before the trees have leafed out.

My friend from the neighboring town’s Shade Tree Commission ended up giving me the same exact opinion as the other guy. Which I guess is a good thing. After debating this for two weeks, we have decided the bigger one has to come out, but we will give the smaller one a chance, since both men agreed that the smaller one might possibly survive. It is hard enough to say goodbye to one of the trees, I think losing two would be too much of a shock and feeling of lose. It breaks my heart to a million pieces to have that big tree taken out. It is a part of the history of this house and this street. It is young in tree years and I wish it could stand for another 50 years or more.

The previous owners had a painting commissioned of the house. We tried to buy it from them, but they wouldn’t part with it, so we took a picture of it. It is an idyllic painting that shows both trees.

That’s the way I prefer to picture this house and property. What will I do when I come home to find that tree gone one day? I have been trying to mentally prepare myself for the shock. I keep trying to visual the house without that tree in front of it. Without that lovely shade in the summer. Without all of the colorful leaves on the ground in the fall.

I tried to hug the tree the other day, but I couldn’t get my arms around it. I hope it knows how much we love it and will miss it.

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