It’s been a while. I know.
I had a jolly old piece about “killer trees” prepared to post on the evening of November 7th, but I wanted to give it one more read-through before I sent it out into the world.
And then the election happened.
Suddenly, I didn’t give a shit about my trees anymore. And I’ve been struggling to show up here as anything less than a snarling madwoman ever since–reason enough to remain silent.
And I’ll be honest: I still don’t know what to say to you.
I am ashamed of my country. Or half of it anyway. I’m angry. I’m afraid. I’m doing what I can to fight the good fight, but I don’t have it in me to fight here.
So maybe I’ll try to pretend that everything is normal, even though nothing could be further from the truth.
I’ll stick to trees. For now.
Earlier this month, I learned that I have quite a bit more property than I initially believed I had when I purchased my home about a year ago. It was brought to my attention the hard way, by the good Town of Fairfax, when I received a letter stating that a tree that had fallen in the first round of storms–the same tree that I glanced at and breathed a sigh of relief over when I saw that it was all the way down at the bottom of my street–is, in fact, my tree.
That tree was clear across the street and 500 feet down the road. How could it be MY tree? In answer to the question, the letter read “see attached,” which I did. Lo and behold, there it was: a schematic of property lines and, highlighted in fluorescent yellow marker, the sum total of my kingdom, including the useless extra parcel, complete with downed tree.
It was my responsibility to remove it.
Lucky for me, I happen to know a strapping lad with a chainsaw (thank you, Justin!)
This was not the problem.
The problem was the rest of the trees on that useless piece of, ahem, I mean, that glorious strip of land, which is essentially nothing more than an easement separating a bend in the road.
Since the letter appeared in my mailbox, I’ve been lying awake at night thinking about my “killer trees.” There are several–five or six–each with multiple trunks, hulking limbs, and vast spans of foliage weighed down by creeping tendrils of ivy, leaning precariously, menacing the road and the houses across the street.
Something must be done.
Now, I am someone who prides herself in being a good citizen and neighbor. As such, I would love to take care of these trees immediately so that I can rest easy knowing they aren’t going to take out a car, a roof, a wandering mountain lion, a pack of coyotes and/or schoolchildren on bicycles, all of which make regular appearances in my neck of the woods. But I can’t afford to. Really. I just can’t.
I’m a single mom. A nurse. Every dime I’m making is going to my ridiculous Marin County mortgage, childcare, not to mention my godd@mm*d m$th*rf&ck#ng student loans.
Ahem. Excuse me.
To add insult to injury, about a week after I found out the offending tree was mine, I also learned it had knocked off my neighbor’s chimney on its way down.
Of course it did.
And not just any neighbor’s chimney–the crazy neighbor’s chimney.
Of course it was.
This was the neighbor who, when I introduced myself to her for the very first time, yelled, “Is that car gonna go screeching up the driveway every morning at nine because it’s waking up my whole house!” Not even so much as a hello.
“Nice meeting you,” I said in return. “Have a great day.” Oy.
She caught me off guard with the news of the chimney while I was busy raking leaves from my driveway. There was an awkward monologue on her part about how “she thought it was the city’s tree but just learned through a letter that it was mine and she was going to call me or write me a letter but anyway I owe her at least $400 and she doesn’t think I should put it through my homeowner’s insurance because it will take too long and it’s not that expensive but if I insist she’ll call them and who is my provider and what’s his phone number?”
Really? Settle down lady.
But she couldn’t settle down. I finally figured out why. In the middle of our conversation, it hit me. “Where are you from?”
“Where are you from? I hear east coast in your voice.”
Ding ding ding! “I thought so. Where in New Jersey?”
“I’m from Paramus.”
She ain’t crazy. She’s from Jersey. It’s been smooth sailing ever since.
As for the trees, I decided to take my little problem to my community via the website Nextdoor. I posted an ad: “Desperately Seeking Benevolent Lumberjack”
In truth, I was seeking a “benevolent arborist” but it didn’t quite have the same ring to it. In return for a tree consult, I promised fresh baked cookies, dinner for the whole family, free medical advice, and 50% of the profits when I finally have the money to erect the “Fairfax Flatiron Building” on the useless strip of land and rent it out on AirBnB. I did make it clear that I had no intention of cutting the trees down (so I could forever be known as “she who caused the great Fairfax mudslide”)–I just wanted to give them a little haircut to make them safe.
I received any number of frantic Fairfaxian freak-out responses from those who read the title but not the actual ad: IT IS ILLEGAL TO CUT TREES WITHOUT A PERMIT!!! DO NOT CUT THOSE TREES!!!!!
I also got a number of fun Oh my god! I wish I could help you! You’re hilarious! Can we be friends? kind of notes, which was nice.
But the official answer to my problem came a day after I posted the ad. Jonah and I stopped mid-walk to watch the town street sweeper go by. He’s a truck-obsessed toddler these days, so he was filled with “ooooos and aaaaaahs,” which were audible even over the din of the machinery. Much to our surprise, the street sweeper stopped and shut down right in front of us. “Mama! Truck! Wow!”
The driver rolled down the window. “Hey, are you the young lady who posted about the trees?”
“Young lady? I wish. But yes, that’s me.”
“I just wanted to let you know–I’ve been working for this town, looking at those trees on Tamalpais for the last twenty years. The one that came down? It’s been threatening to go for a while now, but the rest of those trees are fine.”
“Really. They’ve looked like that forever. They’ll be like that forever. They’re fine. Probably for a long while.”
“Seriously. If you want to do anything, maybe cut the roots of the ivy growing around the bases, but otherwise, you should be good. They aren’t going anywhere.”
“Okay. Thank you!”
“You’re welcome. Really. Don’t worry. You’re good.”
I’m choosing to trust him. Twenty years of looking at those trees trumps my three weeks of panic any day.
If only he could do something to quell the four weeks of panic I’ve felt since we were Trumped. That would really be something worth writing about.