The Great Shade Tree Tragedy

When I moved into this townhouse nine years ago, the street was lined with giant shade trees. Since then, wind and lightning have thinned or taken down most of them. There were only two big ones left: mine and one across the street.

My shade tree. It's a little thinner on the left because of a lightning strike a few years ago, but it's still a beauty.

Our subdivision also has another type of tree in front of each building. (Don't ask me what kind. I don't know. All I can tell you is that it's not a birch, maple, or oak.) These other trees became infected with a tree disease a few years back. (I want to say it's a type of algae, but that's only in water, right?) Anyway, the point is, the infected trees are dying. A few are already dead. The Homeowner's Association and Management Company are aware of this. They're the ones who made the decision to let the trees die instead of trying to do anything about it--one of many decisions on which we disagree, but that's a diatribe for another time.

So, a little over a week ago, when I heard the buzz of chainsaws, I thought the HOA and Management Company had hired landscapers to start removing the dead trees. Instead, I was shocked, disappointed, and angered when I looked out my window and saw the landscapers taking down the shade tree across the street. All of it. Not a few branches. The whole darn thing.

What's left of the shade tree across the street

 The dead tree a few feet away--that was left alone and left standing:

What the heck?

I became concerned that my shade tree was in danger, too. Such fear is not unfounded in my years in this community. When I moved in, I had tall shrubs in front of my porch that afforded me a measure of privacy. The shrubs were healthy--no insect infestations or other affliction. I came home from work one day to find them all ripped out and replaced by brand new shrubs--of the exact same kind. For some unknown reason, the HOA and Management Company had decided to rip out the mature plants and replace them with fragile new ones.

Were they doing that now with the shade trees? Taking down the two surviving mature trees to replace them with saplings to match the rest of the trees on the street? The HOA is obsessed enough with conformity that such a decision is not out of the question.

I began to brainstorm: what could I do? How could I save my shade tree from the fate of its sibling across the street? I thought about chaining myself to the tree--except that I have no chains in my possession. I do have a long canvas dog leash. It's easy to cut through, but it might be enough to get my point across. I made a mental list of what I'd do if the chainsaw wielding landscapers came anywhere near my tree: call the Management Company, tie myself to the tree, make a scene.

Every morning for the next few days, I rehearsed in my head my to-do list and what I would say and to whom. But the tree-killers didn't come back. My tree is safe. For now, at least.

However, if one day you read or see a news report about a crazy woman who tied herself to a tree, look carefully. That crazy woman just might be me!