What is that noise? It’s not the rain, though insistent rainfall has accompanied me throughout the day. It’s an Oregon Coast December, so nothing but cozy-familiar there.
I have been making chili, a go-to for this vegetarian, and perfect for these winter afternoons, but I’m at the simmer stage when this sound pierces my consciousness. And it does not desist. It emanates from behind our back fence, and I recognize it even if I can’t yet name it. A trip to the backyard slider door confirms it as a column of smoke rises and melds with the gray weather. It’s a chainsaw! And then I see it. No—it’s what I don’t see that strikes me first: dual pine trees whose tops had spread their needly boughs beyond our yard, blocking the proximity of our neighbors.
What I do see—all too clearly now—is those neighbors’ roofs and back porch lights. We live in a closely-packed retirement community, but those pines afforded us evergreen deception. I grabbed my coat and raced out the back fence. The damage had been done. Where the trees once stood twin fresh-cut stumps bared faces to the rain.
I pursued the trail of the tree service to the street behind us and asked them “Why?” The man gently told me that one of the trees needed to come down, was sick. “And the other one?” I countered. “She was worried it would fall over in the wind when she wasn’t here and damage her neighbor’s property.”
There was nothing I could do. The mighty trees had been fallen, leaving sawdust, raw wood, and a hole where green once stood.
I rued their passing as loud lights on house backs blared, disrupting my early morning backyard reveries. I told my son how sad I was, how true the saying, “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”
Yesterday he brought me a tree, a Japanese maple, and planted it in the corner. Soon, he assures me, it will rise above our fence line and spread its leafy arms. “Will I live long enough to see that?” I ask, only half in jest. “Yes, mom,” he forbears. “Next spring…you’ll see.”
Thank you, Sam, my landscape-genius son. Patience he is cultivating in me. I will wait.