When we first moved here, one of the things we loved about our little postage stamp was that it was a postage stamp covered with trees. Our fraction of an acre was LOUSY with the tall wood and the small wood. Two giant firs in the back, a little stand of small maples and black locust (which plays out the “oh god they’re coming back out of the ground!” part of every zombie movie, every week), a big old perfect red maple and two more silvers in the back. Front yard had some other little maple tree stuck right in the middle of the yard. And then there was the granddaddy (perhaps the great granddaddy) of them all, an enormous old red maple that probably predated the house. It was about five feet across at the base, deeply tangled in the power/phone/cable wires, and was somewhere north of 50 feet tall. All of those maples were the gift that keeps on giving — buds, seeds, sticks and leaves all year round, but not delivered in a convenient sandwich bag. In fact, each fall we’d have to stuff all that wonderful nature into at least 80 giant leaf bags. It was a major chore.
They weren’t young, either, at least most of them weren’t. The first to go was the front yard maple, which served no purpose whatsoever and ruined any running around space the yard offered for toddlers. The little maples and the locust in the back we cut down about three hundred times, then gave up on for a while. Then last year we took down the firs, which were dangerously nevergreen and clearly didn’t have their hearts in the tree thing anymore. Suddenly, there was light in the backyard. Grass grew. It was amazing.
The ice storm a couple of months back took down a scary big branch from the granddaddy out front, and it was clear it had to come down. An army of tree guys descended on us Tuesday morning (with a CRANE) and took that sucker down in a ridiculously short amount of time (considering what I was paying for this early morning entertainment). And while we were at it, would we take a deal to get rid of those other two maples along the back? Well, why the hell not.
So our wonderful, wooded, grass-free shade lot is now pretty much like any other suburban yard (or at least any other yard that is spotted with raspberry canes throughout). Sure, I’ve screwed up our carbon balance and may have to explain that to a dying earth someday, but at least I no longer need to fear a giant maple branch killing one of the neighbors’ kids. So, I’ll just breathe a little slower for the rest of my life, and it should all even out.