Friday, August 13, 2010

August 13:
Here's how life works sometimes.
We're coming toward the end of fixing up our house, which badly needed maintenance, but one of the first things we did was to cut down the big wild cherry tree on the border of our property toward the back. A large branch had fallen off in a windstorm some years ago and damaged one of our cars, the tree was dying, with few leaves, and we were worried that a hurricane could take it down and do a lot of damage, possibly to the neighbor's property. One of the last people I want in my life is an insurance adjuster. So I asked Mark, a tree surgeon married to one of my nieces, if he wanted the job and he did, came out, cut it down, would not let me pay him anything (I donated some money to his kids' college fund instead, and that seemed to please him), but left us to take care of the wood. Which was piled up on the turnaround space at the back of our driveway. There was a lot of it. Some of the pieces were big thick things that it would take a front loader to pick up.
The wood sat there for a couple of months while contractors repainted the house, reshingled it, and tore out the old rotten deck and put a new one in. We couldn't do anything about the wood because a large dumpster was sitting in the driveway, blocking access to it. Then the dumpster was gone, the other work was done, and there we were, looking at a whole lot of wood and a huge pile of debris. So Lorraine, the bright one of the two of us, went to the internet to see what wild cherry was worth. A fair amount, it turned out, to the right people. She put an ad in the local paper to sell it: $100 to anyone willing to take it away. A woman named Anna came to look at.
Anna's husband, as it happens, is an Australian sculptor and furniture maker, currently in Australia but coming back soon, and he was looking to find some American wood. She said ours was just what he wanted. How about a trade? she suggested. I'll get my daughter's fiance to take the wood, she said,and he'll also take the debris, and there was a lot of debris, not just from the tree but hedge trimmings, torn up vines, all kinds of junk that would cost a fair amount to get rid of.
OK, sounds good to us, we said. The next day her daughter's fiance showed up with a truck. He turned out to be a landscaper and yard maintenance guy, and he indeed took the debris, and some of the wood, then came back the next day with a front loader and captured the big stuff. Then he wanted to know if we were interested in getting Bob out of our driveway. When we moved into this house Bob was a red cedar growing by chance at the edge of our driveway, between the curb and the madacam, and about six inches tall, and we let it grow, and grow, and grew fond ot if, and gave it a name, Bob, and now it's 22 feet tall and very handsome. But in the way. It was getting harder and harder to steer a truck, or anything, between Bob and the hedge that borders the driveway on the other side. People, in fact, think we're kind of crazy for letting Bob grow. But our new friend the fiance, whose name is Eugene O'Neill, said it was a $3500 tree now, and urged us to move it to safer ground. So we are moving it to safer ground: about six feet to the west. Now Bob can truly flourish, and harbor small birds, and offer us something green to look at in the winter. Meanwhile, to offset the cost of doing this somewhat, the Australian sculptor is going to make us a fine piece of furniture out of our wild cherry wood, and possibly, who knows? a piece of sculpture as well. And all this makes me very happy, because the tree is getting used, and Bob will flourish unchecked and grow handsomer and handsomer, and the old wild cherry won't fall on anyone, and, best of all, because it illustrates something I've believed for a long time and that comes straight from the Tao Te Ching: When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.
If you understand that, you understand everything.