Delightful neighbors; dreaded tree.
Looking down from the front door to the back yard in
July 2006, the thick trunk of the neighbor's tree is on the right.
The sweet, fluffy tree is a River Birch that Matt and I had
planted in honor of our "wood" anniversary in 2001.
The tree drops annoying seeds on our deck. "What the heck are these?" we ask our friends, Karen and George, early in our residency at the lake shack.
With the Asp Tree on the left, here is our
home in February 2007, in all its "before" glory.
"Asp seeds," answers Karen with the definitive air of an expert. So that is why we feel Cleopatra's pain--Casa de Roo is troubled by the horrible asp!
The Asp Tree in June 2007.
In fall, the Asp Tree also covers our deck with leaves.
In August 2007, the tree looms
over our 20 leaky skylights.
|The Asp as viewed from street.|
Then bigger branches.
The Asp Tree as seen from what serves
as the lower deck in February 2008.
This becomes ever more worrying once we begin renovating Casa de Roo.
The house starts taking shape in 2008.
So we make a proposal to our neighbors: "How 'bout we chip in on removing this dying deciduous danger?"
|The base of the Asp isn't the only part|
showing signs of decay in July 2010.
They say: "We like the shade." We say "FRAK!" (Under our breath, of course.)
|Granted, the Asp looks less horrible from a distance... |
And so, the horrible Asp continues casting a menacing shadow on our dream house.
I keep a wary eye on our nemesis, never missing an opportunity to shake my fist at its shaky branches. "Aaaaahhhhhhssssssp!"
|The moon casts a shadow on just one of|
many sticks on the roof on March 19, 2011.
Then, after a dramatic boat ride, Matt and I come home to find that my arboreal ageda has become fully justified.
|On July 13, 2011, Matt and I take an after-work cruise.|
An unexpected storm--complete with a micro-burst
of wind--yields a rainbow over the community clubhouse.
|The sun beckons us home, illuminating |
a path directly to our property.
You know that thing? That thing when the air fills with the surprising smell of fresh wood? Well, we experience that thing as we approach our dock.
|The Asp drops an enormous branch, thankfully not on |
our new porch, but sadly on our beloved anniversary Birch.
Matt doesn't miss a beat. He grabs the nearest saw and gets right to work.
|Matt saves the day as our neighbor looks on.|
|A bird's nest and porcupine-like seeds|
are among the broken boughs.
|Matt makes a lot of progress during this first |
of many branch eradication sessions.
I grab my iPhone and call the neighbor, trying to keep my inner bitch on the inside. Over time, we are in agreement: The tree (which turns out to be a Beech, not an Asp, but is nonetheless horrible) must come down.
|A spike remains where the branch used to be.|
It does, on August 23, the day of the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that rocks not just folks in my office, but millions of people from Georgia to Canada. Thankfully, when the tremor hits, no one is up in a tree, above my house with a chain saw. Hurricane Irene hits a few days later. Could we have gotten any luckier to be without this tree?
|I get home from work on August 23 and--|
wow!--an improved view of the lake.
We agree to save money by allowing the service to leave us the the felled tree.
|Looking off the deck that evening, I realize I had|
underestimated just how much wood there would be.
Our theory? Free fire wood! The neighbors take some logs, too.
| An example of the rot eating away at the tree trunk. |
|The remaining stump of the offending Asp/Beech.|
At a big box store to buy an ax, I convince Matt not to purchase the heaviest one so I can help him. Respectfully, he agrees and I look forward to chopping some wood.
At home, he explains the technique, demonstrates it artfully, and I give it several tries. As the blade bounces off the log and back at me for the umpteenth time, Matt wrestles the ax from my still live, warm hands and takes over.
|My attempts at swinging this tool effectively|
leave me saying: "Vive la difference!"
My enthusiasm for summertime firewood creation diminishes. I figure: "Well, the logs are neatly stacked and out of the way. Maybe, if I ignore them, they will go away."
The October 30 nor'easter adds further
injury to our Asp-abused River Birch.
The nor'easter leaves us without power for four days. We end up buying manufactured and natural logs to keep warm.
|Mini Cooper as pick-em-up truck.|
I feel silly: We have a lot of wood in our own back yard. It just needs to be transformed!
|Matt swings the ax on December 10, moving|
with the grace of a major league baseball
player hitting a home run. Log after log shatters.
Then the firewood needs to be carried up to the front of the house. This is my job.
|The first set of 30 steps I traverse with load after load of logs.|
Matt has two brilliant ideas today:
- Build a funicular.
- Market a new experiential work-out program. Instead of going to a gym, you come to our house, pay us, and we coach you on chopping, carrying and stacking wood, along with the aerobic benefits of stair climbing.
|The second set of steps.|
|The resulting stack of firewood from three|
|The challenge? The remaining logs are ginormous. |
And the reward is obvious: a cozy fire on a cold December night.