I’m a tree hugger. I love trees of all shapes and sizes. I remember climbing the 300 year old Oak tree in between the school yard and our back yard, wanting to live in it’s branches with the birds and squirrels. So I was rather distraught when this weekend took place.
First, a little history about my neighbor. He and his wife moved next door about 4 years ago. He’s from the DC area and his wife from England. She’s a vegetarian and he’s your typical guy who likes his toys and likes to “keep up with the Jones’s”. Now his wife and I are the nature loving people that we are, exchanging gardening and landscaping ideas, always making sure that the husband doesn’t cut down or spray chemicals on something we think should be allowed to live and prosper. I think if he had his way, he’d have a concrete lawn with a steel girder fence…anyway…I digress.
We live in a small town on the Eastern Shore of MD with both of us living in old homes “on the hill”. Mine built in the late teens to early twenties and theirs built in the late 1800’s. A row of Maples separate our driveways which has provided much needed shade in the late morning/early afternoons.
They had their work cut out for them when they moved in. The previous owner had let the property get overgrown, it was ‘for the wildlife’ we were told however, it had become rather unsightly for the neighborhood. In order for Chainsaw Charlie to get his “workshop” trailer (a tractor trailer car) up the driveway, he had to cut a rather significant branch off the lowest Maple on the hill. Having never cut a branch that big before, he got half way through, the branch broke and he fell off his ladder leaving a huge spur sticking over his driveway. Luckily he wasn’t hurt, but the spur remained.
So after a couple of years of hard work, the property was actually looking presentable again. You could see the house hidden behind several Cedar and Spruce trees. The majestic Elm and towering Horse Chestnut tree cornered the house making it the picture perfect vista from the street. An ancient Mulberry tree stood on the side of the house. At some point in history, the tree had been struck by lightening, split in half, lived and continued to grow. The main trunk was at least 15 to 20 feet in circumfrance. That was until Chainsaw Charlie purchased a newer, bigger toy.
First he hired a tree removal company to get rid of the Horse Chestnut tree. This tree stood a good 40 feet tall, was somewhat close to the house but nothing that would have bothered your nature loving friend. Every spring I would look forward to the tree blooming it’s white blossoms…hundreds of large flowers that you could smell from down the street. Within 2 hours, the tree was nothing but a ground up stump. When it came crashing down, it was like a mini-earthquake. The Mulberry tree was next. Thankfully, the good half of the Mulberry was spared. Still my heart broke.
Fast forward to last month. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. I’m working away in my garden, the birds are singing, bugs are abuzzin’ and I hear a chainsaw start up. I wonder what he’s getting ready to cut down now. I let the noise go for a bit before I get curious. Just as I’m walking out of the garden, I hear the sound of wood splintering followed by a huge thump. As I approach the top of the driveway, there’s one of the tallest and oldest Cedar trees, laying on it’s side, blocking the street and Chainsaw Charlie doing a little jig, all proud of himself.
You can smell the fresh smell of Cedar everywhere and all I can think about is how long it took that Cedar to grow as big as it was. Chainsaw Charlie hadn’t anticipated the tree to fall across the road so he starts barking out orders to his wife to use the hand saw to cut the branches off while he begins to dissect the portion blocking the street. I shake my head in distress and go back to the solice of my garden.
I’ve gotten over my distress several hours later, still working in the garden and having the constant buzz of the chainsaw reverberating in my ears I realize that it’s taking him longer to cut the tree up than what I would think is normal until I hear the unforgivable sound of wood splintering another THUMP.
I now realize that there are three other chainsaws going in the neighborhood. One to the north of us on the next block, one going steadily on the block east of us and another at the end of our block.
As I near the house to refill my water container, I look to see that Chainsaw Charlie has removed the remaining Cedars and is approaching the Blue Spruce with gleam in his eye. Revving the motor on his toy, circling his next victim trying to decide which way the tree should fall. You wouldn’t want to make the same mistake twice now would you?!?
The lower part of their yard looks like the aftermath of a war or a tornado has touched down. Branches, stumps, logs lay askew everywhere. Surprisingly, the snag is still standing. All the perfectly good Cedars are gone but not the snag. (now I like the snag because it houses an owl that has been around for as long as I can remember, in addition to other wildlife that it provides shelter for). Needless to say, I had to go to my best friend’s house and escape the murderous drone of the chainsaws in my neighborhood.
The following day, Chainsaw Charlie was at it again. This time cutting up the remains of his conquest from the previous day. That is until I heard one final wood-splitting thump. Down came the snag. The yard was almost devoid of trees with the exception of the giant Elm, little Cherry and Silver Maple.
The little old lady across the street no longer had shade for her front porch in the afternoon. The passers by could see the big white house on top of the hill but it looked so strange being so open. Part of the character of the house had been trying to catch a glimpse of it between the trees. The owl and other wildlife would have to find new homes. Huge gashes lay here and there from the felling of the massive trees. And there in the middle of it all was Chainsaw Charlie, eyes gleaming, standing proud, boasting about his progress with the neighbors who came to survey the job done.
Needless to say, I was not among them. I had my own little mourning for my ancient friends that had had their lives cut short (no pun intended). I spoke with the wife the following day and found out that she was not too happy with some of the felling but couldn’t dissuade Chainsaw Charlie from leaving a tree or two.
All in all, 8 trees were felled that weekend. Hopefully, Charlie has put up his chainsaw for a while, if not forever. I have to wonder if people ever realize how long trees live, what they do for our environment, how they provide for we little humans. The next time you think about cutting down a tree, think about how long it took to grow, what benefit will it have if it’s gone, is there another alternative to cutting it down. Yes, trees are a renewable resource, however, how long do we have to wait before that renewable resource is replenished?