By Trudy Wischemann
For those of you who know me, who know where I live, I apologize for the rude awakening you may have received driving by my house this past week. I had my trees trimmed, and now the block looks unfamiliar. The bushy landmarks are gone. It’s hard to recognize the intersection and know where to turn.
I have been living for years with the sentence “You need to trim your trees,” delivered kindly by friends, and a little more firmly by various City of Lindsay employees. Police chief Chris Hughes softly mentioned one night at a city council meeting that it would be hard for the fire hoses to reach my roof surrounded by those branches. That sentiment reached me, and I appreciated his reasonable approach to the problem. Unfortunately, the trees had reached the point where I was no longer able to rein them in.
Over the 25 years I have lived beneath these trees, 2 Chinese Elms probably as old as the 70-year-old house, I have noticed two distinct responses to their untamed state. The predominant one, of course, is that they were overgrown (and were that way when I moved in,) and much in need of serious pruning. These folks belong to the Control branch of landscape management, which defines beauty as a reflection of the resident’s ability to be in charge. The more trimmed, the more deliberately uniform, the better. To these observers, by letting my trees grow unrestrained, I was contributing to uglification. I was running down the neighborhood.
The other response was that the trees were beautiful, amazing, and a blessing both to the birds of the air and the people looking for a shady place to park. These people were often women, who also noted that the trees deep shade likely made my house more pleasant in summer. Some confided that they wished their husbands would be more gentle with the exteriors of their own homes. They seemed to envy my lack of a husband who would wield the chainsaw despite my objections. Let us say that I commiserated with them, and felt that in maintaining my own landscape ethic, I was supporting these sister environmentalists forced to live in a closet.
But lately the sentence “you need to trim your trees” was coming from inside my head. They had overgrown the street so far that last fall I had to set up traffic control cones to sweep the leaves. So I found a good tree man, who looked at the overwhelming job, brought in a crew of 6 hardworking men, and got the job done. I went into shock with the trees, and folks from the Control branch of landscape management laughed. “They’ll grow back,” they chided. “I hope I’m still alive when it happens,” I shot back, noting their lack of sympathy. But they will, whether I’m here to see it or not.
The beautiful part of this experience has been learning how much the trees meant to others. Thanks to everyone who has stopped to offer their surreptitious sympathy. Thanks to everyone who appreciates that other approach to landscape management. May the birds of the trees find shelter in your yards this winter. And thanks to those somewhat overzealous men who risked life and limb – on my behalf – to do what needed to be done.
Trudy Wischemann is a sometimes angry poet who writes paragraphs. You can send her your butterfly sightings c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com and leave a comment there.
– This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.