The Long Goodbye

Since the sold sign went up in front of our house, I’ve had more conversations with our neighbors than in the previous 14 years combined.

When we first moved in, I got yelled at, a lot.  People would see me walking our dog and want to know if I was picking up.  I always pick up.  But one neighbor, Adolf the Lawn Nazi, actually hounded me about urine.  I guess I’m supposed to also carry a sponge or something.  Adolf and I had a couple of shouting matches, which ended when I threatened to get a PPO, because he had started following me around in his car, accusing me of lying and other fun stuff.  Adolf probably had some health issues going on, but he is not the first former military man to zero in on the small female walking a small dog.

Now people are telling me they love the dwarf Japanese maple in front that we planted as soon as we moved in. Pruning it has become a meditation for me, something I try to do with respect for the tree.

You don’t even want to see what the LCAs do when they prune. My trees looks good because I do all of the pruning by hand and with no power tools.

But this is the first I learned of any admiration around the ‘hood.

Practically no one has planted more than one or two trees.  I was hoping to serve as a role model.  Bwahahaha!  It took 14 years and 7 months, but a neighbor a few houses down planted two saplings recently.  One of the new neighbors put a very small tree in their backyard.  And, another new one has a jelly pot out as well as hummingbird nectar on their deck and has a clear view of our bird room action, leading me to hope for another nature lover.

“The best time to plant a tree is ten years ago.  The second best is today.”  The guy that we get our trees from tells me that every time I call for help.

The redbud in back is another loved tree. It’s not an original. When we first moved in, I wanted privacy quickly and didn’t do any research. We stupidly put 6 white pines in, because they grow fast. But not in heavy clay soil. One by one, they died. Replaced with black pines, a tulip tree, serbian pines (the last remaining non-native species) and a service-berry. Yesterday I planted the last tree, a crabapple. I joined the Arbor Day foundation years ago and received 10 “trees” as a gift. They were tiny sticks with pitiful roots.

Two remain alive today. I tucked the crabapple into the space left open by the murdered Joe Pye weed. On about a quarter acre lot, we’ve put in 22 trees over the years. The baby hawthorne we are taking with us. I’ve watched the hawthorne tree in the birdroom grow over the years, and I’ve watched cardinals, squirrels, robins, and cedar waxwings eat the berries. I’ve become a fan.

The crocosemia are blooming and I saw the first female hummingbird hitting it this morning. Bee balm is blooming.  Hummers are scarce this year.

Trumpet vines are popping now too.

None of them look very good. Strange looking leaves, twisted and mutated, have been found on the magnolia bush, two of the rosebushes, and the trumpet vines so far.

The white cedars that line the bird room look terrible.

We had a very cold harsh winter and a wet and cooler than normal summer so far. Weather doesn’t explain what is happening, of course.

So, as much as I’ll miss the trees and flowers and bushes, I know how much it would hurt to watch them die. Sometimes shifting baselines are merciful.

This little patch here in develhell has received my blood sweat and tears.

We were living here when the permanent driveway was poured.  I carved our initials into the wet cement.

Yet, as I watch the algae bloom in the ponds, my neighbors watering during and after rains, listening to the traffic noise and people noise, looking at trash thrown from car windows,  I know that I must remove myself from “civilization” because otherwise, I will eventually go postal. 

Seventeen days to go.


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4 Responses to The Long Goodbye

  1. Chris says:

    You are right. I have limited civvies here and I love it. But, as you know, I have weeds.

  2. paulineschneider4p says:

    I love reading you.
    I wish you were my neighbor…
    I also love weeds. Especially dandelions. 🙂 I plant them. They are exceptionally healthy and delicious! I pop their yellow heads in my mouth like candy. Yummy!!

    On a sad note; I too noticed few hummingbirds this year, and have not seen a single European Bee. I see a few Bumblebees, but not many either. The years past of the nectaries I planted being covered with thousands of tiny nectar wasps, and honey bees are gone.
    It’s like a cematary out there and getting worse. I too have noticed the spindly new leaves on trees. The ozone and the UV light are damaging them. I’m certain of it. It could also be viral.
    Viruses are opportunistic. Especially when plants are vulnerable.

    Sigh. Good luck getting out.
    I’m right behind you. I hope.

    I love you tree person’s saying “the best time to plant a tree is ten years ago. The second best, today.” Beautiful…

Thanks for reading!

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