When my husband and I moved to the house we now live in, the neighborhood was brand new. In fact, my son and I had discovered the house for sale. Our son was eight, at the time, and the two of us had gone out for an afternoon bike ride. We rode from where we lived to a newly developing neighborhood very close by. In fact, our old house and our now house are less than a mile apart.
As we rode into the developing neighborhood, it showed all the signs of being brand new. About a dozen houses had been built, all on speculation. Since it was during a housing slow-down, very few had sold. And there were NO trees anywhere.
Once we had bought the house, and moved in, one of the first things on the list of things to do was to plant trees. The wind came whistling out of the north-west, and smacked our new house, especially in the winter. So, trees to help break that whistling wind were a MUST.
We got about a dozen small evergreens--all bare root stock and each eighteen inches high. And I walked along the back of our lot, with my husband digging holes, as I planted the small trees. Each tree seemed to be pitifully small. The result was that we planted them entirely too close together. As it happened, about every other tree was a Japanese pine. When they got too big, we took them out, leaving the Douglas firs, the Scotch pine, and the Colorado blue spruce, and one lone Austrian pine. Eventually, we added two Engelmann spruce (that had been live trees in front of our church).
This year, we had the Austrian pine taken down. It still had some green at the top, but most of the rest of it was dead. A neighbor thought it might come down in his yard, so we had it removed.
When Hurricane Irene began to blow up the East Coast, it did not even cross my mind that we might have storm damage. This week began with an earthquake in the east--a rare occurrence. So, a hurricane seemed like a fitting second act. But we have had hurricanes blow through central Pennsylvania before. Some do significant damage--mostly from high water. Hurricane Agnes in 1972 was just such a storm.
But the forecasts showed our town to be just enough to the west of Hurricane Irene that it seemed we might get a dose of rain, some wind, but not much else.
I awakened around 4:30 a.m. to hear the rain and the wind. Things sounded restless enough outside that I did not go back to sleep--more from curiosity than concern. As it began to get more light outside, I could see the trees being whipped around by the wind.
When I looked outside again--I got the first shock. TREE DOWN. This Douglas fir was one that our son had brought home from grade school, which we planted near our pool. And now it was down--just heaved over from the too much rain softened soil, and finished off by the wind.
Then, a bit later--there seemed to be far more light to the north side of our house than usual. Tree 2 down.
And, it continued then when Tree 3 leaned, on its way down, only to be stopped by a neighbor's black cherry tree.
So, now we wait for a tree service to come, clear away, clean up and haul off our lovely 30 plus year old trees.
And, then, we will have to decide--what to plant there next.
Joyce Kilmer's oft-cited poem came to mind:
I THINK that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree. . .