Friday, August 2, 2013

The Mighty Are Falling

The first time I really new Blowfish and I were in for lifelong struggles was when we went to buy a lot for future homebuilding. I had found a lot I loved.  An acre studded with beautiful Live Oaks along the shores of a small , pretty, spring fed pond.

I rounded up Blowfish and took him off to see this jewel of a find only to hear him say, " Damn Fishy, we'd have to spend most of the budget taking down these trees"
" What!?!?!?"
"You can't build a house on a lot with these big trees on it".
" Walk over here with me. There actually is a perfect clearing for the house. I can control the foot print so we will not have to lose any of these major trees."
" Well this one right here has to come out for my driveway."
" No! Look over here , this is the perfect spot for the driveway entrance between these two smaller oaks. Look how beautifully the limbs form a perfect Gothic arch over the exact spot of the driveway entrance."
" That's so stupid Fishy, over time the tree roots will damage a driveway and, if you put a house under a tree that is stupid too."
I am not overly fond of being called "stupid". My excitement over this awesome find was deflating fast.
" Blowfish, let me share a vision with you"
"Why? I don't like it, too many trees, too much raking, hard to mow around tree roots. No,  this does not work for me"

I tried, and failed miserably in explaining to Blowfish the importance of our trees to Southerners. He  hails from New York where, apparently, they take down every single tree. When I first met his parents they proudly told me they bought their lot  because it was a " beautiful treed lakefront lot." Looking around I saw no trees so I said, " Oh no! What happened to your trees?" Looking puzzled they explained to the idiot Southerner it was necessary to take them all down because of the risk to the house in Winter. " What risk?", I had asked. Very patiently, as one does when talking to an idiot, they explained trees were risks to houses " Because of the weight of ice and snow in Winter and the snapping and falling in high winds." Really? I looked from face to face and said,
 " We don't experience much of that here in Florida".

I learned over the years it was just not possible to ever change the Yankee beliefs of Blowfish or his parents. I did try hard to keep the worst of their beliefs out of Mermaid's head since she was born to, and was being raised in, the South. Once my beloved mother in law pulled me aside and told me it was not appropriate to teach Mermaid to say "Yes Ma'am or Yes Sir" because it was racist. They never accepted the manners of our region and did not want their grand daughter to either.  That was not our best day.

Here in Carolina we have had an unusually wet Winter, Spring and Summer.  Because the land is saturated and there has been much flooding, once mighty oaks are falling. Lots of them! In our neighborhood one family has lost their giant Peace Oak which has graced their front yard  since long before it was a yard and long before their home was built. There are 3 oaks in the pond at the end of our street no longer standing tall, shading it's shores. Neighbors just two doors away had an oak fall taking out their Pergola but thankfully, not their new roof. There are detours all over from downed trees, power outages and tremendous messes requiring  heavy equipment and multiple crews to manage.  Our weather reports are as much about wind advisories  as they are about  sun or rain. There are warnings about wet grounds , high winds and falling trees. There is even a hotline for reporting the newly fallen. Many of our parks and playgrounds are temporarily closed too. There are warnings everywhere. I pray for our trees.

The other night I was telling Blowfish how sorry I felt for a nearby family losing their anchor trees.
He asked, " Anchor trees?"
"You know, the key trees on the property which help anchor the  home to the land."
"Fishy, don't be feeling sorry for people who do not have enough sense to take down the trees around the house. In fact we should talk to the treeman about taking some of ours down as a precaution".
" We won't be doing that."
" Why not?"
" I am a Southern woman, you threaten my trees you threaten me."
" You need to get over that."
" I have the right to self defense.  For myself and those things which are important to me. You seem to not understand it is a tragedy for these families to have lost their trees.  I spend thousands to keep our trees maintained  because I love them. We will not be taking any of them down. To say you even want to is very disturbing. Sometimes I wonder if you have learned even one thing about me in three decades."

Blowfish had that look.
that  passive aggressive  calculating stillness which means he was through talking on a subject and would just proceed with what he had determined was right for him.  I walked out of the room wondering if it was a sin to think about chainsaw accidents.


Doom said...

Been there, done that. Not all Yankees are tree adverse. Now, I used to be. My last love was quite the opposite. We used to have that very self-same discussion, sex matched, as you two.

Coming to buy my first property, however, has changed my views... a bit. Then again having a major branch fall onto my roof jangled my nerves. I didn't actually feel or hear it, and it didn't hurt my abode, but...

Now I am torn. I have four 40'-50' trees close enough to reach out and touch, but I do love them... Theory and reality, lovers set to never embrace? I need balance, but that takes a checkbook as well... I'm... considering the options.

fishy said...

You have!? My deepest sympathies.
Just remember houses can be rebuilt but a tree cannot. Do have an arborist consult on the health of your trees. Most healthy trees don't come down, unhealthy ones might.

Lucky for us our upper yard is terraced so the largest oak adjacent to and overhanging our deck is spared the flooding some neighbors have experienced.

Doom said...

Oh you come at things from such hope! You see, I can often barely get the dishes done. Actually, lately, not even that. I truly am crippled up, more inside than out. Mobile but with no ability to focus the flesh. So... rebuilding would be... a nightmare. Where to go, what to do. And money? Insured, but... Great difficulties for one such as I.

As to the trees, they are healthy. It is just the type of trees. All I know, from speaking with neighbors, is that these types of trees have this problem. They have a bit more life to them, and they offer shade. So I would hate to remove them without a plan in place... Maybe even replacements in place if that is possible. Luckily my home was quite soundly built. That branch was bigger than many standard trees. At the point where it hit the roof it was... 6" to 8", and the tree is 20'-30' foot away. It didn't just drop, though, it must have leaned/fell.

All requires professional assessments and then money to implement a plan, or for me to do a lot of research and get busy with the saw and planting. Assuming I could get the branches off, the trunk would still need professional attention, it is 5' to 6' foot thick. I'm doing good to have figured out how to take a minor vacation, so money and ability are both questionable. But I'm... thinking on it all.

And yet, I would rather have the trees, and risk, than not. *sigh* I've become a recalcitrant tree hugger. Oaks (only bur or pin for here) and other such would be my favored, but they really aren't for Utah, I believe. These seem to be the more viable choices of shade trees.

Oh, blathering. Just meant, I understand your argument more than not. Internally now, externally before. Sorry for your troubles. Enjoy them though! *laughs*

Doom said...

Oh, as part of my nickname for her, the term quercus was included. Just to let you know what I was dealing with. :)

Pam said...

My British father-in-law was amazed that everyone here has a tree planted close to the house, certainly in the older neighborhoods. I explained the concept of Shade Trees and how they help keep a house cool in the heat of summer, but they have to be able to cast a shadow, now don't they. It was an aha moment for him.

Pam said...

My British father-in-law was amazed that everyone here has a tree planted close to the house, certainly in the older neighborhoods. I explained the concept of Shade Trees and how they help keep a house cool in the heat of summer, but they have to be able to cast a shadow, now don't they. It was an aha moment for him.

fishy said...

As one who has spent her entire life in the heat of the deep South I just cannot grasp why others would fail to appreciate and nurture their trees.

When we came here to the Pond I spent as much time viewing the trees as the house. Blowfish asked me if I was buying a house or some trees. I told him I would never even consider buying a house if it did not come with trees.
No doubt he thinks I am ...challenged.

If you were able to educate your FIL on the importance of shade trees , well I am impressed. As yet, I have made zero progress on this mission with any of the Blowfish clan. One of his cousins came calling from NYC a few Summers ago. He exited his car saying, " Damn Cuz, you've lost your mind! Your deck is right under that huge tree!"
I wanted to tell him to get back in the car and go home!

Aunty Belle said...

Heh....on this me an Uncle gits along mostly.....and we has a tree---huge one--- growing right through the roof of the porch.

fishy said...

I cannot even imagine what the Blowfish response would be if I wanted a tree growing through the porch! RFLOL