After 2 years of debate, Elizabeth and I finally decided to take the irrevocable step of hiring Marvin the Yodeling Yoder to remove 6 of the maple trees between cabin and pond. Arriving for an initial consultation, Marv admitted that he’d never dropped such large trees into a body of water before, but after considering the logistics, he started to exhibit some enthusiasm. Even in a lifetime of tree felling, I assume that there are always new challenges.
A couple weeks later, on a lovely spring Friday, Marvin’s driver delivered him, a suite of Stihl chainsaws, and a JD tractor. Elizabeth, my parents, and I all pulled up chairs and cameras, and prepared to enjoy the show. Marvin loves to yodel after dropping each tree, which is always a treat. Combined with the added excitement of the big splashes, tidal waves, and the added complication of aquatic extraction, it was the most fun I’d had since the day all the cement trucks arrived to pour the foundation walls.
Its no small matter to end a life that has lasted longer than my own, even it if is just a tree, and there’s no going back. The tumbling trees in the first two images can also be seen 4 decades earlier, at center left above, a November 1976 shot showing the excavation of the pond (dozers are digging the dam in the background). Checking several stumps, I was able to count 60 about rings, representing a relatively short but eventful life for a sugar maple.
As shown in the somewhat cluttered Spring 2013 view, It was apparent as soon as we moved into the cabin that we’d eventually take down more trees. The inconvenience of fishing them out of the pond was only part of our hesitation, though. The development of a woodland, even one that has been thoroughly pawed over for 150 years, raises aesthetic questions about our relationship to the land, and practical issues about ongoing maintenance.
The improved view above also includes a slice of lawn 2.0, a recently top-soiled, graded, and fertilized area of turf that now requires the regular ministrations of a used Lawn-Boy, courtesy of the Amish wizards at Charm Engine. Elizabeth has taken the weed eater to the tree-free slope between house and pond several times this year, and I’ve gingerly explored the adjoining slopes with tractor and brush hog. While we love being close to nature, there’s an appeal in conquering it, too. It isn’t a question of whether more trees will come down and more petroleum-enabled mowing will take place. Its only a question of how far civilization spreads.
There’s a reason that country people usually don’t build their houses in the middle of the woods, and it involves more than the soothing satisfaction of surrounding yourself with a putting green. Besides the annual summer millipede plague, and a ceaseless series of teething rodents, the trees represent a potential threat to the cabin. As we learned this week, when the wind is strong enough, falling trees don’t feel compelled to obey the law of gravity. A nocturnal snotbuster of a storm this week brought down a dead tree, taking out the Internet dish. Marvin had offered to take that one down too, but I enjoyed seeing the woodpeckers and assumed that it when it did fall, it would be in the opposite direction.