Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fences Make Good Neighbors

We are having an enormous silver maple tree taken down today. It gives us pretty shade in the hot summer, privacy on our patio, and it's a marker of things in this world that have been around for a lot longer than we have and potentially for a lot longer after we are gone. Silver maples are also very likely to be inhabited by squirrels, who hollow out the inside creating weaknesses that then cause huge branches to fall from great heights. The previous owner was a gardener who worked closely with an arborist on the various trees on the property and had some of the larger branches cabled to make it safer and in the event of a break, to keep them from crashing to the ground. Our neighbor has made several (whiney) comments about the tree, and even though we had a tree guy come out and look at it and give it a clean bill of health, I can understand his concern.

After the freak snowstorm we had here at the end of October, we realized that while there was no damage from this tree on ours or the neighbor's house (of which about 75% of the tree points in that direction) that we would take the tree down this spring. It is costing us $3000. Three. Thousand. Dollars. So being the decent neighbors that we are, we are taking care of it. Legally, we don't have to. If they so desire they can hire someone to come out and trim the branches to the property line. But that would require the use of the same bucket truck that we had to hire and would cost them $3000. (can you tell I am not looking forward to swiping the credit card on this one?) So I don't think he would do it.

So the other day after making small talk with me for a few minutes he asked us if we would also have the ends of another healthy tree that hangs over his driveway (barely) trimmed back. Mother f*cker loves to get things done for free. It is wayyyy up high and extends at most 4 feet over his driveway. By trimming it back to the property line, it would create an uneven balance to the rest of the tree from which hangs our tree swing. That his daughter goes on whenever she pleases. Which is fine. Except now he's in my numbers.

So I do this thing where I completely internalize whatever conversations I have with people and go thru a whole range of emotions rehashing it over and over and over. I see their side. I really do. Our driveway is under my other neighbor's huge pine tree which drops sap sometimes on my car. They also have a row of cypress that drops needles and makes kind of a mess in my yard. Can I ask them to take them down? You bet. Would they want to? Probably not. If we wanted to we could have them trimmed back. So instead I move the car back a few feet in the drive and bust out the leaf blower from time to time. I'm not being a martyr, just kind of rolling with the fact that I chose to live on a street that the houses are all pretty darn close to each other.

I tend to go through life trying to make sure that everyone else's wants are taken care of, and seethe on the inside. So today, after losing sleep over this for a week I spoke to his wife. With a smile on my face and a firmness to my spine I told her we weren't going to do it and why. I stood my ground. With my roots firmly planted. Much like the tree that's about to be cut to the ground, roots intact. I would love to put up a 6 foot privacy fence between our houses. But I can't. Because that would cost, like, three thousand dollars.

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