I've blogged already about how they are replacing the sidewalk out in front of our house. It runs the length of the street, turns in front of the school and then ends. It was built over 50 years ago, and it was falling apart. Having to walk down that sidewalk at least 2x a day just to go to work (I walk down it more than 2x a day), I was the biggest advocate of replacing it.
Right up until last week when they got to the part in front of my house. On Thursday, I watched as the big trucks dug out the old sidewalk. I heard crunching sounds that I came to discover where my hedges. I took several deep breaths. I am a fairly intelligent person and I didn't expect that they were going to rebuild the sidewalk without causing some disturbance to my hedges, which grow right along the edge of it. Secretly, I was hoping that whatever damage they did would be minimal. I walked out after they left for the day, and had a look.
I was amazed at what I found. Broken branches. A tree down by the corner with a slice in it from the side of the scoop on the back of the truck. Roots of my hedges exposed. But the thing that shocked me the most, was the roots of my poor maple tree. When they dug out the old sidewalk, they dug out part of the trees root system. A big root was severed. Other roots were broken and damaged. Half the trees roots were exposed out of the ground. It didn't take an idiot to realize that in order for them to put in the sidewalk, more roots were going to be cut out.
I must've stood there for 5 minutes, just amazed and stupefied. I had my camera. I had my hands on my hips. I probably looked a little more than pissed off. Then the head of the Hwy. Dept. drove by and saw me. He pulled right onto our street and parked right in front of our house. Got out of his truck, and started being all nice and sweet. "Don't worry, we're planning on coming back in the fall and repairing everyone's driveway ends that lead out to the street. When we lifted the block of cement by your driveway part of the driveway lifted up and cracked (oh yes, I know.. I watched the whole thing, and don't think I didn't notice you broke my walk too was what I was thinking at this point) but don't worry, we'll take care of that. The hedges have spread out over the years and were right down at the sidewalk.. if you look down the street you can see where the sidewalk line is (my ass.. the hedges have very narrow bases.. they haven't moved one iota sinc they were planted.. aside from growing tall, and I keep them trimmed very well) and I'm sure the hedges will bounce back. The tree roots were growing under the sidewalk and you can see where we have to cut them out, and we're actually going to have to cut out more in order to make this work. But don't worry, if the tree dies we'll come back and take it down."
I didn't know what to say. If he had just driven by and not stopped, we would've been fine. If he had said,"I'm sorry, but there was nothing we could've done to prevent this." I would've been fine. But don't try and butter me up and make it all better like you are talking to a 3 year old. I'm mad. I'm entitled to feel that way. His blubbering sweetness was doing nothing to make me feel better. I just felt more mad.
This morning they came back to finish digging out the dirt and getting in front of my house ready for paving. I watched from upstairs as they dug out the rest of the roots. I called The Boy at work and told him we were going to lose the tree. He asked me how I knew and I told him how the whole tree was swaying each time the truck dug near it at the base. Just then the Hwy. Dept. guy knocked on my door. I went outside and he went on and on about the tree, and a big wind, and he'd feel better if they just took it down.. yaddah, yaddah, yaddah.
I had already resigned myself to the fact, and so I agreed and called The Boy back to tell him. They went off to get the Fire Chief (tree was growing through the power lines) and the dump truck and I got my camera and took some photos of the tree next to the house. When I was growing up, in the city.. we had no trees in our yard. When I was 9 and moved to NH, our yard was full of pine trees. Pine trees suck if you are a kid. You can't climb them, you can't hook a swing into them, and they don't turn colors. After I got married and moved to the city again (dif. one).. we spent 5 years with no trees. I loved that my house had trees. We have a black walnut tree that houses most of my bird feeders. We have maple trees surrounding our property like giant fence posts, with the hedges in between them. In the fall, the two different maple types produce the most beautiful colors. That particular tree provided shade to my porch, and the east side of my house. I love my trees. All of them.
While they were gone I got out the lawn mower. I had already planned on mowing, and figured I needed to get that side of the lawn done before they came back. In no time at all the tree service showed up and they began dismantling my maple tree. I watched them while I mowed the lawn. One branch at a time, a beautiful tree turned into a slender pole with a tree top. As I got around the back of the house, I saw the guy make his way to the top of the tree. Mr. Man was outside with me, shoveling the dogs area before I got there with the mower, and we both stopped to watch. With one quick cut of the chainsaw, the top of my tree came off, and the tree was no more. I would be lying if I told you I didn't shed a few tears. I was grateful for the mowing to get back to and the sunglasses I wear to protect my eyes while I mow.
I went upstairs to clean up in the shower when I was finished, and when I got out a new shock greeted my eyes. In the process of taking the stump and the roots out, I lost a chunk of my hedges. I watched as they loaded the stump onto the back of their dump truck and filled in the empty space with dirt. One little bit of hedge was still in one piece, and they planted into the middle of the empty space, so it didn't look so huge and awful. To me it felt like a slap in the face. Just now, as I have typed this, they have brought back 2 smaller sections that were next to the stump and put them around that middle piece. The hwy. dept. guy knocked on the door again, and told me if we buy new hedges for that spot, the town will reimburse us for them. I think that was a nice gesture and I appreciate that they are trying to do the right thing. I can't stop going to the porch and looking at the spot where that tree was. My yard just doesn't seem the same.