Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Stupid Tree

The biggest tree in my yard needs to come down. That's my opinion, but it might not be the opinion of the City of Portland, so we just dropped off our application for permission to remove it.  The application ran to four pages. They wanted color glossies of the tree. They wanted its size, weight, lipid profile, zodiac sign, and likes and dislikes. They wanted to know exactly what I intend to replace it with. They wanted a site map showing location of the house and all the trees and which ones are staying put. I drew that up in two colors for extra credit. I want to get a good score.

On page two of the application, they want to know why I want the tree to come down. I want it gone because it's a stupid tree and I hate it. I didn't put it exactly that way, but it's true. I could have planted anything fifteen years ago when there was nothing in the yard. And I read up on trees, but I missed some clues somewhere. It's like how people make little lists of what they're looking for in an ideal mate: handsome, well-educated, sense  of humor, likes to socialize, picks up all his acorns, that sort of thing. The only thing I wanted was a tree that would get nice and big in a hurry, and that had a deep root system that wouldn't interfere with anything I planted under it. Scarlet Oak seemed to fit the bill.

But the problem with making lists for your ideal mate is you never really get the whole picture. And there you are stuck with a handsome well-educated funny mate who makes these excruciating juicy noises whenever he eats until it could drive you right up the Great Wall of China and into the arms of a vicious, yet somehow attractive, Mongol.

This tree got big in a hurry. But it's not the right kind of big at all. The branches go straight out horizontal, for like miles. It's on track to shade the entire yard and not just the half I had in mind. Here's where the stupid comes in. Those horizontal branches do not have twigs and leaves on them. They have nothing on them until they get to the very tips, miles from the trunk, and that's where, with great reluctance, they eke out a few petulant leaves. A petunia patch probably sequesters more carbon. If you look at the tree from the street, it looks like a big leafy tree. But it's an empty shell. It's all shade and no habitat. Birds hate it. If birds liked it, I'd keep it, even though.

In the part of the form where I was supposed to say why I wanted the tree down, I wrote a lot of stuff about native plants and bird habitat and threw in words like Diversity and Density and I might have intimated my tree was in favor of coal trains, big banks, and the assholes in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. I said I wanted to replace it with not one but three native Socialist Democrat vine maples and a spotted owl. They still might say no.

At which point I will look at it sneering at me, and I will think I brought you into this world, and I can take you out, while trying not to think about Bill Cosby. But I won't take it out. I'll keep the stupid tree and feel glad I'm in a community that cares about itself more than it cares about any one lone cowgirl and her stupid mistake of a tree. I think, mostly, things work better that way. I'll keep the stupid tree.

Then I'll blast it with a liquid suet cannon and crust it over with thistle seeds. Maybe hang up a little bell and a mirror. If it dies, it dies.

28 comments:

  1. If you just say you fear some large limbs might fall and hurt someone who could then sue the city if they don't do something about the hazard which you are now warning them about...never mind, probably better to just leave it alone.

    Or then I understand copper nails hammered into the trunk will...(better known as the Republican solution.)

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    1. Ack! No Republican solutions! I'd rather hack it off at the ankles!

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  2. We have the same routines and had to take down not one but three huge tulip poplars, probably close to 100 years old, but they were in the wind line for hurricane weather and I said that we could be killed with our house roof crushing us when the trees fell and that seemed to win the test. We were supposed to plant two tree in the place of each of the three, but we live in such thick would that would require killing trees to plant trees.

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    1. That's a lot of trees. I think I counted 14 in our yard, but some of them are just faking it.

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  3. Holy Schmokes - you planted it and you have to have permission to get rid of it? I think I understand the reasoning, but it seems a tad draconian. Did you know when you planted it that those rules existed?

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    1. Nah. And it depends where you are. They've got the whole city zoned for this and that. I'm in a zone a, h. And I don't know what that means.

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  4. We have similar regulations here - but only if you want to remove a tree native to our country. It doesn't have to be native to the area, just the country. In times gone by you had to jump (very high) through hoops to get approval.
    After a firestorm swept our city, approval is easy peasy. So the denudation caused by the fire spreads and continues...

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    1. Ish. Firestorm. I sometimes ruminate about the kind of disaster I'd hate the worst, and living in fire country is right up there. Whereas earthquakes (our specialty) seem kind of fun. Cosmically fun, anyway.

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  5. Add a few lightning rods to those branches. next time you get an electrical storm a stray bolt or two of lightning might just take care of the tree for you.

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    1. Hey, that's the look I'm going for. We already got the yard blackened with a burnt-down garage once.

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  6. I love your problems. They put mine into perspective. Speaking of trees, we have the largest and oldest hemlock on the mountain, when almost all of the native hemlocks all over the Blue Ridge mountains have died of Wooly Adelgid. As hemlocks go, it is magnificent. I treated it myself, without so much as an expensive forester or tree service and it has survived beautifully. It is an exceptional tree. You can see it in every single blog post featuring my property, my garden, my bears, my birds...And I want it dead. I really really want it dead. It's blocking my entire world view.

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    1. Oh, you have a problem. You really kind of have to keep the old bat, don't you?

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  7. Fer Petesake don't let those Bundits know!Jeeze! They'd be camped on your porch, "testing" IUDs.No-wait! That's a whole other thing...

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    1. That's a whole other thing! And the Bundits are totally in favor of leveling all the trees and dredging all the gold and leaving the prairies to cheatgrass. They'd be on horseback on my porch waving an American flag.

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  8. Different countries have different rules about tree removal. Canada is extremely tree-sensitive. In our city, which is surrounded by water and beaches, home owners spend an inordinate amount of time trying to "improve their view"—a euphemism for chopping down anything that grows between their house and the sea. Many neighborhood battles have ensued!

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    1. Ah yes. Our Forest Service cabin has strict rules about things like tree removal (DON'T). But a neighbor a few cabins down somehow has a clear view to the river.

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  9. I tried planting a tree in our back
    yard, but it died before the roots could reach the ground 40 feet below. I have a black thumb, or something.

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  10. I'm guessing that the tree was never pruned (or was pruned improperly), leading to its rampant and sickly outward growth. If pruned top to bottom and given some nutrients, it might regain strength and become a less-stupid-tree.

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    1. I dunno. It was never pruned, for sure. But shouldn't a young tree with no competition in the sunshine (such as we have it) do okay? As far as I know it's healthy, but it just doesn't have any leaves in the center.

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  11. You should post on some social media other than this that the 'guvmint is keeping you from doing what you want on your personal property, get a case of coors and some pop tarts and put them out for the nevada militants who'll be there shortly to protect your rights......

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  12. Ahab has the right idea. Just prune it. And prune it. And prune it some more so eventually you have a little flagpole.

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  13. I live in the city (NH), so trees aren't too much of an issue around here, although we do have a firebush that my landlord constantly hacks down every fall, so it can grow huge every summer (and the birds love it). I don't think the city cares because the base is there and by September it's 8 feet tall! Good luck with the tree - pruning sounds like a win/win situation

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  14. A neighbor here once had her husband hack through several large roots to a beautiful maple. What do ya know, it died. She had the stump ground, and had brand new sod put in the whole yard. It was her pride and joy.

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    1. Gaah. We're sod-free here--double lot, no grass.

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