Thursday, September 10, 2015

"When the Bough Breaks"

By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
When I bought my house, which the bank owns but kindly allows me to pay for, I was thrilled to have a big yard with lots of beautiful trees. Apparently, the trees don’t feel the same, which is why, after a recent storm, the oak was on me.

Not literally, of course, because if a tree fell on my head, it would be crushed to kindling, while my head would be slightly dented but otherwise unharmed.

This particular tree either was hit by lightning I was shocked, SHOCKED, that such a thing could happen or had its uppermost branches sheared off by what some meteorologists speculated was a tornado, not likely because I don’t live in Kansas, even though, according to the bank, there’s no place like home.

Fortunately, mine wasn’t hit by the tree, which nonetheless knocked out my power. It knocked out my house’s power, too, when a huge branch fell and came to rest on a power line in the backyard, threatening to plunge the entire neighborhood into darkness, especially at night.

Then again, the setting sun does the same thing all the time. Good thing I don’t have solar power.

Anyway, it took two weeks for the power company to come over and cut down the offending branch and another huge one that had almost entirely snapped off the trunk. That branch was resting against a neighbor’s tree on the property line and would have taken down the power line if it had fallen, too.

During those two weeks, the power was restored but went off twice more, both times when the sun, which also rises, was shining brightly and there was nary a breeze, save for my hot air.

When the crew from the power company finally arrived and felled the two big branches, my wife, Sue, was told they couldn’t be cut up and hauled away, but one guy said he could do it privately for a price that could have bankrupted Donald Trump.

So I got an estimate from Vinny, who works for O’Connell’s Landscaping, the company that cuts what little grass we have. The lawn looks like a stretch of Death Valley because the trees in the front and back yards are so shady.

“I’m kind of shady myself,” I told Vinny.

“Maybe I should cut you down,” he replied with a smile.

Vinny, 41, a Navy veteran who served in the Persian Gulf, said I was lucky the tree didn’t fall on my house.

“If it had,” I noted, “at least I’d have hardwood floors.”

“I’ve seen plenty of trees that fell on people’s roofs and into their pools,” said Vinny, adding that he slept through the storm. “It didn’t affect me, and I live only a few miles away. I guess the worst of it was in your neighborhood.”

Vinny surveyed my branch-littered backyard and gave me a reasonable price to cut up the wood and take it away.

“I’m a geezer with a handsaw,” I said. “I could never do it myself.”

“You don’t have to,” said Vinny, who, a few days later, sent over three of his best men: Efren, William and Mario.

“You have a lot of rot,” said Efren, the supervisor of the crew.

“I know,” I responded. “But what about the tree?”

“It has rot, too,” said Efren, who showed me and Sue the decaying wood in one of the branches.

“I used to like oaks,” I said. “Now I hate them. Never mind the acorns. It’s the brown gunk they drop in the spring that’s the worst. And they’re supposed to be the strongest trees, but every time a breeze blows through, the yard is littered with twigs. Now this.”

“And it could happen again,” Efren said as William and Mario finished the job.

“You know what they say,” I told him. “Everything happens in trees.”

Copyright 2015 by Jerry Zezima

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