Sunday, May 16, 2010

Catching Up To Now

We've socialized with more people in the past ten days than we've had in any ten day period in the past several years. Lots of good food and wonderful conversation. Time with family, and with old friends whom we haven't seen in more than 20 years. We didn't realize how far away we've been, during the years we were in Port Townsend, until we came home and became within easy reach of loved ones.

My mom and sister came up to explore the area, and both have plans to move here eventually. My mom is seriously thinking about moving in with us. Our new house is really well laid out for such a thing. She loved her very spacious and very private master suite. It's got a beautiful western view and a lovely flowering dogwood to entice her. We celebrated my 58th birthday together on Thursday the 13th. It's a very special treat to be with my sister and mom on my birthday. We don't get to do it very often, but I do remember quite fondly the funny time we had in 2007.

We took them back to the airport on Saturday. The house was especially quiet Sunday. I took the camera down to the pond and looked for dragon- and damsel-flies. It was humming with activity down there. Always good for the spirit to be immersed in the natural world. Roger went out back to mark the trees we're having taken down next week. Yup, you read that correctly. We're taking some trees down in our backyard.

They are close to the house, which makes them an extreme fire danger (in the summer dry sierra foothills, that's a very serious consideration), and they block morning sun from the very place we plan to put the garden. I've been watching these trees for a month. The birds don't spend much time in them, and from the dearth of activity and much scrutiny, we can tell there are no nests. In the mornings, all the bird song comes from the northwest side of the house where the oaks and madrones are, or from further east where the other oaks and madrones are. There really is not much going on in the tall pines. What activity there is comes mostly from the hummingbirds flying into the cedar when they are chased off the feeder. There are forests of trees all around, no one will be deprived or not have a safe space for hiding.

But even after all this consideration, I still feel so damned guilty. It's not necessary to leave us any comments that will beat us up any more than we are already doing ourselves.


  1. Do not feel guilty. You are doing absolutely the right thing. Those people who thin and wisely manage their forests tend to survive the wildfires that can come from nowhere and erupt so fast. The garden needs life also. Tell the trees you appreciated their service and value them for the end that is required for others to live. It's what we do when we have to butcher the cattle or sheep. I know trees don't hear or think... maybe... but the whole forest often vibrates with activities and by assuring them of your plans, I think it makes it all healthier. Really I do believe that.

  2. Are they large enough to have milled into some kind of lumber, or can you think of some use for them after they are cut? That might help with the guilt pangs. Anyhow, don't feel to guilty. Maybe your sacrifice of these few trees will save many.

  3. I just saw a news bit on a place in Oregon which is a tiny island of old growth trees in the middle of privately logged lands. There were huge 500 year old trees, tiny seedlings, fallen trees, trees burned by lightening, you name it.
    Trees fall in the forest all the time.
    Good to hear you've been having a fine time lately!

  4. Rain-- Thank you for that. I told Roger that I have an affliction, I think everything that lives has a consciousness. Your comment makes me feel better about what we are about to do. Tomorrow comes the reassurance.

    Bev-- We are selling some of the wood to a mill. The rest is being chipped for us to use between our raised beds in the garden, and in other parts of the yard. Our neighbor is going to let us thin some of the trees on his land. Now there's a pile of wood just waiting for a match. A real fire hazard.

    Isabelita-- It's always good to be reminded that trees fall in the woods all the time. It's what happens. You wouldn't believe the size of the branches I've seen fall in just the short time we've been here.

  5. I do so understand how you feel, but Rain is right and you surely have no reason to feel guilty. I'm so glad you had the opportunity to celebrate your birthday with your Mom and sister! And a belated Happy Birthday from me! Things are looking wonderful there and I'm excited for you! Hope you have a great week!


  6. I feel the same as you about cutting our trees. But your safety is more important and you can always replant another in its place in a better location. Consider leaving about 15 feet of one trunk still in the ground for a snag. The woodpeckers will adore it.

  7. Robin, I'm glad you all had a good time with family and friends. I miss that when we go a long time be the recluses we've become. Trees will outlast us all. There are enough of us who care about them to be sure there will be a few left when we're all gone to allow them to repopulate the earth!

  8. Don't feel guilty about that! Rain is right, and all forests do better when they are selectively thinned out.

    Good to know that you had a nice time with your family and a good birthday.

  9. yes, what everyone else has said about the trees!

    glad you had a great birthday with mom and sis. glad mom liked her potential new home! good news all the way around.

    you are going to be so happy to be in full garden production mode!! now you're going to have to think about someone to tend it for you in August for a few days....

  10. My husband says I feel guilty about cutting a blade of grass, so I know what you mean!

  11. Robin
    Here in the woods the trees seem out to get us :) we have to thin out White Pine, Hemlock, Beach, Aspen and even Maple to keep even a small clearing around the house. Three and four foot tall seedlings seem to pop up every day When I look at the property where we are moving - I want to hang on to every one of them - even though a lot of trees would block the view of the mountains :)

  12. Hey, I know what you mean about trees, but just remember you are a part of your ecology and whether or not that gives you any rights... you're there. You sound like you have done your diligence duly, and I suspect you will be doing good things for your local biodiversity.
    Also, any bad karma is being offset by being kind to your mother.

    I have a Roman Catholic MDiv and extensive experience as an archaeologist, a birder, and a science fiction and fantasy fan in thinking about our place in nature and I think you are okay.

  13. Thank you so much for your very thoughtful comments. You have all made me feel much better about these few trees we're taking down. I do see that being a good steward sometimes means taking this kind of action. The crew is coming soon, so I'm going to pack up my trusty laptop and head out to the library for some quiet during the ruckus. Thank you again.

  14. Oh, Robin, I understand how you feel!

    When a developer was putting in a development several streets over, I could hear the chainsaws going all day. I swear the trees scream as they fall. Each death was an agony for me to witness.


    In my hilltown property, there are several tall white pines that block the sun to the south. That makes passive solar a tad tricky, so they will die at my say-so. I am going to ask about topping them, so that there is some standing deadwood left for carpenter bees and woodpeckers. We do not have to think about fire hazard where I live...but even in the absence of a fire hazard, tall pines can be a significant hazard to any structures in the radius where they might fall.

    Death is. Without it, there cannot be life (for a very humorous take on that subject, read "Death With Interruptions" by Jose Saramago!). Death is not evil; callousness towards life is. There's a difference.

    Happy birthday! I am so glad you've found your home near family at long, long last.

  15. The tree guys pulled up when I was out saying my thank yous and farewells. I felt silly in front of them, but I laid my hand on those trees and bid them a heartfelt adieu.

  16. happy belated birthday Robin.
    Perhaps Roger can use some of the felled wood to make a nice bench for the garden, to keep a bit of the trees with you!

  17. What a great post. Thinning out trees is a good thing. Back in the day we used to move them around like some people re-arrange furniture. Rain's Shinto consciousness is an excellent poem to the essence of trees! And, a very Happy Birthday!!!! Don't forget to visit us when you make it down here.... Peace MandT

  18. I read often but don't comment much.

    Happy birthday!

    You absolutely have to take down trees too close to the house. Just look at the houses that did survive various wildfires...cleared, defensible space.

    Last year in my little 3 acre, forested plot, three mature trees fell over.

    Saturday, we hiked down to the creek on a ranch I know well. Two huge conifers fell this winter.

    It's part of life in the forest.

    And the "word verification" for this comment is "uncedar"

  19. I can't tell you how much your thoughtful and heartfelt words mean to us. As the sky opens up in our yard, with its promise of winter sunlight, we can envision a future of homegrown food and solar power. Once the birds forgive us for this day of noise and disruption, they're going to love the new space too.

  20. Belated Happy Birthday.You are such a puppy yet. So glad you got to spend it with your family and show off your new home.
    I am like you about trees. I had a "dead" tree cut down when I moved here only to find out it was quite alive, just slow to leaf. Yikes did that hurt.
    You are a good steward. It was not a rash decision.

  21. Happy Belated Birthday, Robin! I'm glad your mom and sister came to visit you in your new home. I wish you many, many more happy birthdays and that each year will be filled with joy and laughter.

    It's sad about the trees, but you're having them cut for all the right reasons. The fire danger is REAL up here in the Sierras in the summer and fall; you're very wise to have them trimmed for safety. I love that you thanked them and revered them before the cutters came. Good mojo.

  22. Wow!! A pinto dragonfly. I've never seen one before. Good to see the little blue dragonfly.

    Happy 58th birthday!! I remember the funny time in 2007 with your mom and sister. The years are flying by.

  23. When they endanger life or property sometimes you have to; if I could afford to take down the 4 elms hanging over my house, I would in a heartbeat; sadly they are in my neighbors yard and all I can do is try and cut back what I can reach from the roof. Every year I end up patching the roof due to ice or wind storms; the retired grandmother living there can't afford to have them taken down either.

    I'm glad you and your Mom are so close. Mine makes that impossible and I've spent a lifetime trying to figure out what's wrong with me that I can't make it work. Part of why I envy you your Mom so much!


  24. as long as the trees are given a proper hug before being cut down, then you should feel no guilt, especially considering how thoughtfully you've pondered their existence! thanks for the reminder that i need some time alone in nature for recharge.

  25. You're cutting down the trees for all the right reasons. It's not like you're mowing down the whole glade to build houses. Yay! It sounds like your house is just right!

  26. We do what we have to do, with due consideration.

    I miss the weedy, leaning, diseased, dying or encroaching trees I had taken down last month, but birds and woodland creatures have proved resilient, adaptable, and maybe even forgiving.

    Adding a couple of new feeders and a variety of special treats helped to assuage my guilt. I'm also working more diligently than last year on the vegetables, greens, and herbs.

    I could have SMACKED MrZ today, though, as he mindlessly murdered a Canada Thistle that was growing to the side of the front lawn. It was over two feet high already and therefore destined for the Blue Ribbon of Common Lawn Weeds, sure to beat the 6 ft specimen I once allowed to grow at Zillahenge.

    Prickly as thistles are, American Goldfinch love their seed, and that bird is meaningful to me.


    I guess I'll buy a niger feeder tomorrow and call it good.

    I think you two are doing beautiful work.

    The trees knew you were coming before you set foot on the property. Now, they are satisfied.