Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Bumpy Tree

I haven't been a Nanny in more years than I was one. Yet, I felt a familiar sense of excitement when I saw 6 tree-trimming trucks and equipment drive into our neighborhood. I was both thrilled and curious to discover that the trucks parked in the vacant lot behind our house.

The buzzing sound of chain saws in action compelled me to take a closer look. Doing so, I was reminded of a little hand in mine as we set off for one of our many "truck watching" adventures. I was also interested to see how many trees would be felled; what would be left of one of the few remaining verdant oases in our neighborhood. Mostly, however, I was worried that one tree in particular had been marked for destruction.

An aside (stick with me, here): Lately, I've been looking for trees to photograph for a book I have in mind. It is an ABC book (I love ABC books) with all the letters formed by tree branches. I haven't gotten too far because, as you might expect, its easy to find a branch-shaped V, or Y, or even a W. But try as I might I haven't found any B's, G's, or Q's yet. It's possible that my book project may be bigger than my tree knowledge or photographic skills. (See the "Y" in the picture?)

So as I walk through the neighborhood, I'm often looking up rather than forward. Out of habit, I even looked up when searching or my missing black cat. It wasn't very likely that he'd appear over my head, but then it wasn't very likely that a Cockatiel would walk across the street either. {See earlier post}

Walking down the private lane behind my house I discovered this huge water oak. What makes it unique, at least to me, is the way it is covered in bumps, as if it suffered from a severe case of some kind of tree pox. I was fascinated by the tree. I immediately wanted to take its picture - if not for my alphabet book, for posterity, or a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer kind of story about a tree with bumps and how all the birds and squirrels loved it best. Believe me this tree has a story to tell.

That was a couple of weeks ago and I never went back with my camera. I lazed about in the knowledge that the tree had obviously been there for a hundred years or more, it wasn't going anywhere. Then, I heard the chain saws. Yikes!

I ran into my neighbor's yard to get a closer look. I was relieved to see that my bumpy tree had not been touched. But there was some serious de-greening going on. The men with hard hats and chainsaws were all business; cut it, move it, throw it into the chipper. What was once a majestic oak, was diminished to mulch size tree detritus in a matter of minutes. Interestingly, I noticed a smell of something akin to dog poopoo rather than sawdust. Maybe that's the difference between oak trees and sweet smelling pines.

I admit to being rather fascinated by the sights and sounds of the destruction. At the same time, I couldn't help but wonder if the trees were hurting as their limbs were whacked off in big chunks. Do trees cry? What about the birds and squirrels and lizards and other animal life that were made homeless in the time it took to say "Timber" (which by the way, the cutters never said even when one branch came precariously close to a limb-mover's head).

Is there a prayer to be said for fallen forest friends? What's going to go in the place of the downed trees? Where is Al Gore when you need him? I'm not sure of the answer to these questions, but at least I'm asking them which I'm pretty sure nobody else was doing. The song that keeps running through my head is a Joni Mitchell tune about paving over paradise to put in a parking lot.

After all the sawing and chipping was quieted I asked the tree men what was going to happen next. "Don't know, mam," came the reply, "we just cut 'em down." Then I pushed my luck one step too far. Obviously men who cut down trees for a living don't want to spend time chatting with possible tree huggers.

"What about the ozone layer?" I asked with enough seriousness to make the chainsaw weilding workers think I was a Green Peace looney tune possibly equipped with handcuffs and chains. The guy didn't spend any time trying to come up with a courteous answer, he went right for my jugular and said, "why don't you buy yourself a Toyota and get rid of that gas guzzling automobile you're driving?" (My dad's car, not mine. I'm just the chauffeur.) Hmmm, I thought to myself, he's got a point there.

The good news is that I've been back to the scene of the crime to check out the degree of damage done. My big bumpy tree still stands, perhaps with a tear in it's woody eye, but majestic and vertical all the same. Take a look for yourself. Pretty cool, huh?

I love this tree.

Merry ME

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