Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Memory of Trees

It is a sad day at the V house.  Four trees were chopped down today in our yard to make way for the new power lines.  The 60 year old trees bordered the backyard and hid the unsightly lines as well as made our yard wonderfully private without the need for a fence.  They weren't anything special, but they were tall pines that offered shade and a barrier whatever the season.  

ComEd (please read with a shudder of disdain) has been battling this moment with me for years.  One time, they didn't even ask, they just came by and whopped the top right off of one of the pine trees.  I ran outside, dragging a half dressed child, and demanding that they stop (the neighbors tell legends of finding me standing chained to my trees for days on end).  We came to a compromise and they took the branches off surrounding the lines but left the tops on.

Those poor pines were never the same.  They grew thinner and thinner with each season.  They produced less pinecones but the cardinal family still happily called it their home and the morning doves came out everyday to greet us.

When I got home from work on Friday, my neighbor nervously came over with a note from the ComEd arborist saying that I MUST call him immediately. This time, I knew there was trouble.  For the past couple of years, the power has faithfully gone out in Suburbia at the first sign of dark clouds.  Last time, a half hour after the storm passed, the power went out as if someone forgot to push the, "Knock Out Power to Suburbia" button at ComEd Headquarters (which I envision to be a very dark building on the top of hill, surrounded by barbed wire, and run by an evil tycoon that strongly resembles Mr. Burns - and coincidentally also controls Comcast, AT&T, BP, Chase, and Jiffy Lube).  

With all the pressure from the community, ComEd needs to replace the 60 year old poles and lines with higher quality (I wish they would just bury the lines).  They are making no exceptions and clearing the path of the lines entirely.  Now I know that my light and flexible pine trees could probably fall on the existing line and not damage it, but I get the principle of it.  Not everyone likes to feel like they are living in a 3rd world country every couple of weeks, especially because the power is known to be off for days, if not a week.  Basements flood because the sump-pumps don't work.  Food spoils.  People have no relief from the squelching heat. And worst of all, we miss Adventure Time.

I restrained and did not shoot my neighbor / the messenger but instead thought I would wait until morning for this unpleasant altercation.  Promptly at 8:22 am, a very nice arbor expert rang my doorbell to discuss the situation.  He informed me that he MUST chop the tops off to just below the lowest power line (about 15' off the ground - see white line in the picture below).  I asked him how the trees would handle that, to which he responded, "Between you and me, not only will it look ridiculous, it will kill the trees."  At which point I informed him that if this is what must be done, I want them chopped to the ground; put them out of their misery.  I will plant the tallest bushes that I can find in their wake.

So today, the kids are out on some of their last playdates before the start of school and I am here alone, with only the buzz of the chainsaws chopping my trees.  As if to add a little bit of lemon... the carcasses of the trees were dragged over my black-eyed susans, coneflowers, and tomatoes; my rain barrel hose has been run over repeatedly with a wheel-barrow, and they left branches (and even water bottles) all over the yard. With my allergies as bad as they are, I've decided that rather than doing something about all of this, I'll just sit in the quiet house, mourn the loss of our trees, listen to Enya, and hope that the cardinals find a new place in our yard to live.
Left picture is this morning / Right picture is this afternoon

So if anyone wants to help me figure out what to do next, I'd be grateful.  My budget is $0.  Okay, that is not entirely true.  I could probably scrape up $100.  I'm at a loss.   I think I could put up a billboard.

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