Friday, April 10, 2009


(continued from the previous four posts)
Rather than leave our tree to die a long slow death, we decided to have it taken out. In less than a minute this friend that had shaded doll parties, Ninja Turtle battles and picnics; sheltered birds and cooled our house was down. Inside the tree we found dry wood. We saved a few pieces of the trunk. The rest was fed to the chipper. Not even the stump remained at the end.
We dug a hole nearby and planted a baby maple.
For months I have waited in fear that the new one would not survive the long, hard winter.
Now tiny leaves are emerging. The maple tree is wicking life from the thawing earth a short way from the location of the old birch.
LIFE amazes me.
The end

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


(continued from three earlier posts)
In the spring of 2008 the melting snow revealed the ruins left behind by the plumbing repair. Using wheelbarrow and shovel we leveled the scattered heaps of dirt. We planted grass in “the scar” and the birch tree started growing leaves. The barberry bush that had spent the winter with its roots out of the dirt and under the snow looked like it might still have life so I stuck in back in the ground. It grew a few hopeful leaves. I filled in the empty spot in the garden with more flowers.
The place left by the removal of the section of the cement driveway became a mud hole every time it rained—much to the delight of small children. When the dirt was dry it was useful for entertaining little boys with toy trucks. Summer was well underway before we could get a concrete contractor to stop by on his way to bigger and more lucrative jobs. Construction equipment is a lot easier to employ when the weather is rotten. For that reason we were blessed that we needed a backhoe in December and not July. We were also fortunate that our homeowner’s insurance covered most of the cost.
Then, when the weather heated up in August, the leaves fell off the birch tree, despite our efforts to keep it watered. Our neighborhood tree doctor said it was a lost cause. In its weakened state it had been attacked by borer beetles and there was nothing that could be done to save it.
Hang in there. Only one more chapter to the story!

Monday, April 6, 2009


(This post is the third in a series of five. The following will mean more if you read the two earlier posts.)
It was the second weekend in December 2007. The temperature had dropped well below zero Fahrenheit and there was snow on the ground when DH and I could hear water running somewhere in our house plumbing even when all the faucets were turned off. This is always a bad sign, especially in cold weather when water can freeze in a pipe and cause it to split. By Monday we had traced the leak to an underground pipe that brought water into the house from the street. DH started calling plumbers and backhoe operators. For some strange reason he found both available that day. Almost before we knew it there was a guy with a backhoe in front of our house awaiting instructions.

The backhoe removes a section of the concrete parking area.

By the time a trench was dug the plumber was there putting down pipe.

I came home from work at noon to see the repair job well underway. The ditch cut right through the new garden. Then it sliced through the roots of a thirty year old birch tree. It was like watching surgery on a loved one.

The roots of the birch tree get amputated

In an hour or so the new pipe was installed, the backhoe had lifted the pieces of a section of our concrete parking area into a dump truck and was backfilling the trench. By three that afternoon the workers were gone and we had water again

Steam rises from the trench in the below zero weather
The little garden I had worked so hard to move away from any danger of construction was a disaster. Half the stones from the pathway were stacked in a heap by the house. One of the barberry bushes was up rooted and tossed into the garden. Other shrubs ended up buried somewhere in the trench. The ditch had gone right through the spot where the new hollyhocks had been. Nothing was there now but dirt---and a new water pipe.
The trench begins at the house---right where the purple hollyhocks were planted
(to be continued)