Saturday, March 12, 2011

changing scenery

Yesterday was not a productive day. I wasn't expecting it to be super productive, but I basically got no work done. Our uphill neighbor told us last month that she was going to have one of the big Monterey pines next to her house taken out. I've always been aware of the trees -- the many (non-Eucalyptus) trees are part of why I bought the house where I did. But this particular pine was right next to her house, with a major branch hanging over ours. Over the years, she had an arborist take care of it, but it had become somewhat unbalanced over the last few years. Even before that, K and I worried a bit during big storms or earthquakes that all or part might come crashing down. So I was torn when I heard it was time for it to come down -- it's beautiful, but can be a little scary.

hecka big crane

Taking down a tree that large between houses and power lines is a tricky business. So they brought in a crane. It's a big tree, so it needed a really big crane. (They were also taking out a smaller dead cypress tree near the other side of the house, and the crane would help with that, too.) Between the crane, chainsaws, wood chipper, and general mayhem, I was anticipating a noisy day. I stayed home hoping to work and to deal with any issues that might come up, and K wisely went to the Mercy Center for a day-long retreat. Guess who was more successful?

Friday morning we woke to the sound of a big crane lumbering its way up the hill. We also woke to the news of the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Although we currently don't have family there, K's brother and sister-in-law used to live in Tokyo (their oldest daughter was born there), and I was there several times on business and worked with some software engineers from Toshiba for a couple of years. So I was not only distracted by the mayhem outside, but I was frequently checking the web for news, praying, thinking of former colleagues and was generally very distracted by the events there. Add to that the relatively minor worries about the tsunami striking California, and it was not a peaceful or productive day.

Despite all that, the they did safely bring the tree down. They started by lowering a guy into the tree with the crane. He proceeded to tie off then cut branches, which were then lowered by crane to the ground for others to deal with. This went on all day, and by 6pm or so, it was all over but the cleanup. They did a lot of that last night, and then came and finished up this morning. We haven't counted the rings yet, but it was a very large tree. You can get some idea of how big it is from the picture of the slice in the back of the truck. It's about 5 feet across at the widest point.

We'll miss the tree (not so much during storms), but removing it has already made a big change in the neighborhood. People further up the hill have new views. We have a lot more light on the north and east sides of the house. And I'll have a lot fewer pine needles and branches to clean from the roof and front walk. One downside is that the azaleas along the path will no longer be self-watering. During the summer, the fog would condense on the tree and drip down onto the flower beds below. Now we may actually have to water them some. On the other hand, it reduces the fire risk, and improves our prospects for solar PV panels.