Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Life with My Lumberjack

Spring is upon us. Everywhere I go flowers are beginning to sprout. White buds are opening on a tree in the back yard. Those will soon be followed by deep pink ones in the front. I do love a flowering tree.

When I was five months pregnant with Julia, Tim and I moved into a community of townhouses called Woodbridge.  It was an older place, built in the 70s. Tim liked a Tudor at the time and the units were resonably priced. We were attracted to the dead end street lined with beautiful pink flowering trees. It was our first home buying experience. We looked at three Woodbridge units and drove by a comparable development. We thought we knew all there was to know.

Our opinion of Woodbridge started to turn just about the time we were getting ready to ditch our adjustable rate mortgage. Refinancing turned out to be rather more burdensome than the finance guy indicated when we first bought the place. "You'll just re-fi," he'd said quite flippantly. No mention of another $5K in closing costs to "re-fi." And we realized that we weren't going to stay there long term with no control of maintaining the exterior of our home. I longed for my own yard. Tim longed to be free from threats of a fine for putting the garbage out too early. We listed with a Realtor and tried hard to ignore the inane requests of the homeowners association.

Then after four years of living there, I drove Julia to preschool.  I returned home and putted around the house.  I heard a dull buzz from outside. There were workers in the street. I didn't bother to look outside. It sounded far away. I got the dog rigged up for a walk and headed down the long staircase to our front door.

There was a Bobcat® mini-excavator in the little patch of grass I counted as my front yard.  It was smoothing an expanse of bare dirt. I did a double-take upon realizing the space was where my beautiful tree used to be!  Those sounds I'd ignored were the buzz of chainsaws.  A crew had come to cut down most of the flowering trees on the street.

All kinds of emotions swirled around my head.  Most of all I wanted to talk to someone.  I called my mother.  I called my neighbor.  No one could really take on the full over-excited ramblings of my sudden loss of that perfect tree.

I walked fast around our the whole community trailing our little shih tzu behind. She apparently was not angry enough for a power walk. I muttered and swore.

The mailman was still stuffing junk into our mailbox when I returned home.  It wasn't our usual guy. It was the substitute mailman.

We talked about how they'd cut down my tree.  He was sympathetic to the injustice of it all.  There was just nothing wrong with that poor tree!  Now it was gone and not so much as a stump was left.

"That big bush looks terrible, too. They should have cut that down," the mailman said as he walked away.

I'd never noticed it before, but now a twelve foot tall ugly bush was clearly visible.  I was about to spend every day of my life looking at its supreme ugliness.  It was too much to bear. Our flower tree gave us shade for four years.  I tied the dog to it when we played in the driveway.  It filled our lives with happiness and our spring season with beautiful pink blooms.

I punched in the numbers for the management office and was told the tree was diseased. It needed to be removed before it spread its disease to other trees. My tree. Diseased!

Tim got home from work that evening and immiately took to stalking about the front "yard."  He called the office. He pouted with me in the house.

"That big tall bush looks horrible," I told him.  "They should have cut it down.  Even the mailman said it looks awful."

Tim went outside to look again. This time he was gone for a while. I wondered what he was doing. Did he run into someone to talk to? I left Julia playing Barbie dolls and went to find him.

When I made this particular trip down the long stairs to our front door, I noticed a lot more light coming into our basement. There through the storm door, I saw my husband. He was dragging that super tall bush across the yard and into the street.

"What did you do?"

Well, I could see what he did. He got out a hacksaw and cut down the bush. We didn't have permission to do it. He just went out there, cut down the bush, and threw it into the woods. We were going to get in so much trouble. I was sick with anxiety over it.

"That was one of those skyrocket Junipers," was all he said. "I hate skyrocket Junipers."

The next day I got a call.  The property manager wanted to know why Tim cut down the skyrocket Juniper. I told her I didn't know what she was talking about.

I lived in fear of that lie for all the rest of our days in Woodbridge. Of course, we followed up the illegal cutting of the shrub with illegal installation of an endless summer Hydrangea and zebra grass. 

The homeowners association was really torqued over that zebra grass. I fielded another phone call about unsanctioned shrub replacement and using plants that weren't council approved. I had visions of large fines or legal action of some sort. All over the skyrocket Juniper fiasco.

By some miracle, the following spring we sold our townhouse. Julia and I drove through Woodbridge last fall. We moved away from there just after her fourth birthday and she said she didn't remember the place. Not even the good stuff. "It's not very nice here," she said.

That made me laugh in addition to making me feel kind of sad.

We drove down our old street to see a very healthy (and beautiful) zebra grass living harmoniously with one of the most gorgeous hydrangeas I've ever seen. I sort of wanted to dig it out and bring it home with us as a final act of defiance.

But I didn't.

I'm a rule follower, unlike my husband the sometimes lumberjack. I would have lived in misery looking at that skyrocket Juniper for the rest of our time in the townhouse. I would never have cut it down without permission.
Julia's photography. Beautiful strategic placement of her finger
in the frame.

Perhaps that's why the two of us do pretty well together. He breaks rules and I worry about it. Now that we own our very own single family do-whatever-we-want house, at least I know I can always count on him to cut down a tree. He has experience.