Sunday, March 8, 2009

Going, going, gone.

We heard the chain saws early yesterday morning. The Douglas fir, to the left of the chimney, had been topped the day before and we had assumed it was going to be left that way. That's a common enough occurrence here on the North Shore. The bylaws make it difficult to remove trees of a certain size. So, people have figured out ways of getting the light - or security - without actually taking the tree down.

When we saw the fellow at work, he was taking the limbs off. That's also pretty common and goes with the first strategy. Eventually, the tree sickens and dies and has to be removed anyway. I hate to see that happen and I think the bylaws create more problems than they solve. There are many sad, ugly trees around which should have been cut down.

So, we watched as the limbs continued to fall. It's not uncommon for a completely limbed tree to be left standing but today was a good day. The tree was taken down in sections. Two red cedars were left which are much smaller.

The trees around where we live are not old-growth. Or even second or third generation. Because we live in a once-upon-a-time forested area, we think these trees were left behind when the land was cleared to build houses. Most are not and many are planted Christmas trees that have grown out of their yard space. They were destined to always do that so why people think planting them in a small city lot is a good idea is beyond me. I guess it's sort of like getting a pet when it's young and not realizing that it will grow - sometimes very large - and it will need care for a long time.

Having said that, the people who plant the trees move on and new owners are faced with a lack of light or a feeling of danger when the big winds blow. What to do? We inherited our big trees and they provide cool shade on summer days. I enjoy the sound the wind makes in their branches. I love that the birds have a place to forage for bugs and perches to sit on out of the rain. But I sure wouldn't cut their tops off or prune their beautiful branches away just to get a bit of light.

The kindest thing we can do is not plant them if there is limited space. It's also a kindness to cut them right down instead of killing them slowly. Maybe city hall should rethink the bylaw.

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