You’ve heard me bitch about our oak trees before. Look, I’m not some nature-hating monster that wants to destroy the planet, but I’ve really come to despise oak trees over the years. Now I know when some of you think of oak trees, you think of wide, sprawling beauties with gnarled old limbs – maybe something like this:
But oaks that grow in close proximity look nothing like the one pictured above. They’re all trunk with a much smaller canopy far above.
You can’t climb them. You can’t attach a swing. You can’t build a tree fort.
You can only watch as they rain garbage onto your lawn.
Growing up, the oak trees that littered my parents’ yard dropped countless tons of scratchy dry leaves that my sister Margo and I had to rake up each fall. It wasn’t a small lawn, folks. That was a lot of raking!
At some point, my dad forked out the cash for a monstrous 8-horsepower leaf blower, and then the leaves became my sole dominion.
The leaves. The endless leaves. The towering piles.
But time’s river eventually bore me from my childhood servitude unto the unholy Dry Leaf, and I became a man.
I lived in cities and worked in tall buildings.
Nature became a thing that was kept far at bay by asphalt and concrete, steel and glass.
On occasion, I’d recall my youthful toilings in the yard, and I’d chuckle to myself at the poor fools still engaged in seasonal battle with a foe that will outlive them ten-fold.
Yep, I had it made in the shade. No more yard work for this guy!
But isn’t it funny how life just loves to throw wrenches into settled plans.
Take my life, for example. In 2009, I was living an easy life as a bachelor. My worries were few, my responsibilities fewer, and my possessions fewer still.
And then along came Handan, and that life was detonated and crumbled like a dilapidated factory building razed to make way for a modern skyscraper.
You must sometimes destroy to create something better.
I forgot about my city ways.
I forgot about my adolescent labors.
I forgot the face of my enemy.
Handan and I trotted around the globe, and then we stopped here.
A scant few miles as the heron flies from the (work) yard of my youth.
And we bought a house on a lot full of trees.
We were enamored with the place. We were smitten.
And still I forgot the face of my enemy.
But the illusion soon shattered. When the ink had dried on the papers, when the deed was done and the Deed was ours (well, mostly the bank’s, but you get the point), I remembered the face of my enemy.
It drifted down and landed on my head as I stood surveying my new domain.
The dry and rustling oak leaf – one of millions set to bring misery and suffering along with their brothers-in-arms, the acorns.
And each year since that fateful Halloween signing that delivered me into the bosom of my enemy, I have engaged in mortal combat with my childhood foe.
I have learned much more about my enemy these past 5 years. I’ve learned that leaves and acorns are not his only weapons. Oh, no. Those are but two arrows in his quiver. In spring, he torments with clouds of pollen dust, choking the life out of all who venture near. And then he throws down infinite strands of pollen to sully everything within his reach.
And though he seems dormant in winter, it is his preferred time to launch wooden missiles down into the yard when the winds and snow converge.
All of this combat takes energy, and he fuels his rampages with water – tons and tons of water that he steals from every cubic inch of his surroundings, starving anything foolish enough to try to compete for his resources.
He is Lawn Killer.
He and his ilk have dried the lawn in front of our house and hardened the earth around him until the grass turned stiff and yellow. He has buried 1000 acorns in the yard – all future oaks that will endeavor to rule one day. He has soiled our new deck with disgusting yellow pollen. He has littered my lawn with dead leaves, even after snow has blanketed the yard.
Well, we had enough of it.
We wanted our yard back. We wanted a view. And we wanted our house to be safe from the monstrous oak that threatened it from the side garden.
So last year we hired someone to take down 4 trees. His name is Brian, and he’s a climber. He takes the trees down limb-by-limb as he scurries up the tree. He came highly recommended.
Brian did an awesome job, so we invited him back this year to take down 11 more, including the huge oak in Handan’s garden.
We now have an open front yard, and we’ve already started to bring in new life. We’ve planted 4 trees so far with plans to plant 2 more.
We will be pouring ourselves full-time into that project next spring. You’ll be the very first to see the transformation.
And we now have a worry-free house. Handan used to freak out during every blizzard and thunderstorm thinking that big oak would come crashing though the roof. She’d tense up at every gust and howl of wind. Our house is safe now, and Handan’s mind is at ease.
And for those who still hate to see trees cut down, please understand that we have dozens more on our property that are safe. We live in a part of the country that is choked with trees. Removal is occasionally needed. Nothing will go to waste from what we’ve taken down. The mulch road is now a weed-free access road for my tractor to dump or collect rocks from my pile in the forest. Most of the logs will be split into firewood that will help heat our house in the winters to come. Some of those logs will become stools and side tables for our deck and patio. And some other logs – the ones with rot or carpenter ant cavities – I’ll fill with epoxy to make some beautiful woodworking pieces.