Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Good-bye to more trees

You would think that Atlanta, Georgia, being south from Nashville, Tennessee, would have warmer weather.  I just drove back to Georgia and noticed that it is cooler than in Nashville.  I believe the reason is that the elevation is twice as high here in Cobb County, GA, the sun is 2.5 degrees higher at midday and the relative humidity levels are 1.5% lower.  When I came here in August there was a heat wave in Nashville - 100 F (37.7C) and it was only in the high 80 F (30 C+) in Atlanta.  As soon as I exited my car at the GA house last Sunday the air seemed a lot sweeter and fragrant with the scent of pines.  Of course the house and all the adjacent land are covered with pine trees; in all direction I see trees, as shown in the heading photo and the photos below.

When we bought the bungalow in Nashville I noticed hat there were only two large trees around the house: one in the front yard shading the front porch and front of the house, and one on the back side of the house, shading the back porch and kitchen.  These were "hackberry" trees.  There were large trees in neighbors' houses as well.  Below are some photos I took with my old cell phone, one showing the large front tree and one taken from the backyard showing the side tree in front of the gate.

The hackberry trees (Celtis occidentalis) are native to Tennessee.  They are hardwood long-lived trees that mature at about 100 years of age and can survive to 200 years.  They can reach 75 feet.  They are good shade trees with very large limbs that sometimes are as thick as the trunks.  The trunks have a unique bumpy bark.  They attract birds (waxwings, mockingbirds, robins) and other animals that feed off the fruits.  The leaves of the hackberry are also host for several butterflies, like the hackberry emperor, the question mark and American snout.  When I looked out of my bedroom window I could only see branches and leaves instead of the traffic, as shown in the central photo below.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

I started a post and called it "Good-bye to another tree."  As you may remember in June 2018 my husband's black walnut tree fell on our roof in Georgia during a heavy storm and I wrote a post about it "A Fallen Tree."  I ran out of time and did not write this new post.  Now back again to this post, unfortunately I have to change the title to "Good-by to more trees" as you shall see.  On Thursday June 20th, 2019, I drove to Georgia.  On Saturday June 22, I received an early phone call from the people renting the next door house telling me that there had been a terrible storm on Friday night in Nashville and my front yard hackberry tree had been hit by lightning.  A huge limb was on the ground across their driveway - they could not get out.  All the electric wires were down as well as the cable.  I spent all that weekend on the telephone, trying to take care of all this from Georgia, with the handyman for cutting the limb, the electric company to come and repair the live wires and more.  Pictures were sent to me.

When I returned to Nashville I asked an arborist to come and see if the hackberry could be saved.  No, he said, the tree could fall during the next big storm, on a car, my house or someone; it had to be cut down.  He added that first the Nashville Electric Service (NES) would have to trim the high branches adjacent to the high voltage wires.  There had been so much tree damage in Nashville that NES did not send to have my tree trimmed until the end of the month, at the end of July.  I did not even see the NES contractor trim the tree, just heard their truck as they were leaving.

I had received three estimates from tree cutting firms to cut the tree down and chose the one that could come the soonest in case of another storm.  They came four days later with their big equipment.  It was with a heavy heart that I watched them cut my tree and took pictures.

Now what was left was a slice of the tree that I had requested, sawdust where the tree had stood and burnt limbs on my little aspen tree and shrub suffered when the motor of their large truck stood too close to the shrubbery.

I drove back to Georgia in August but upon my return to Nashville later I noticed that my other large hackberry was no longer a tree, but just a huge tree trunk, like a giant toothpick.  I could not understand why someone would come while I was away and destroy my living tree like this without telling me.  There had been no storm and the tree was away from electric wires.  I did not think it could be the tree cutting company as they would have required payment.  I tried to find out from NES but they would not talk to me.  Finally last Friday their arborist called me and said that their contractors had made a mistake.  Either the first team forgot to record their cutting down my large tree hit by lightning or they came to the wrong address, but this tree was trimmed down in error.  He added that in a way it was a service to me as this tree would not fall on my house.  This tree was big, at least 35 ft. tall, was healthy and was shading my house.  It had value and was my only large tree.  I had some branches that were hitting the roof trimmed last winter.  See the trunk below - the electric wires are not near the tree, but by the sidewalk in front.

A volunteer at the TN UT Extension told me that this was unacceptable, that I need to obtain the contractors' names and have them cut the trunk and plant another tree.  Another tree will take years to grow, if they do plant one for me.  In Atlanta, the city imposes a $500 to $1000 fine for removing a tree without a permit, but Nashville has a maximum of $50, a penalty rarely imposed.  My hackberry hit by lightning cost me over $2,000 to cut down - I can't afford to pay this for a tree that did not deserve to die.  I was very upset and decided to mow my lawn.  As I was prepared to go down to my backyard I saw workers there, inside my fenced yard, who had placed their materiel and ladders there and were working on my other neighbor's garage.  The neighbors did not ask authorization for their workers to use my yard, and for 3 days at that.  That's when I realized that it is difficult to be from another culture.  The French are very big on politeness - we would never enter a neighbor's fenced yard and let workers stay there for days without asking permission  from the owners first (they would call the Police if we did.)  These neighbors moved from Chicago; it may be OK there?  Workers in my yard shown below (they also hurt my fence...)

I also figured out the distance from Nashville, TN, to Chicago, IL.  It's about the same distance as from Paris, France to Hanover, Germany - so it's far and that is why, maybe, they have different customs and strange manners (or none.)

Back in Georgia again since last Sunday I have not done much.  I don't like to write depressing posts but frankly I feel sad.  This has not been a good year - lost the black walnut tree in June 2018, then my husband died in the fall, then our 17 years old cat died in the spring, they my big hackberry was hit by lightning, then my second hackberry was trimmed down by mistake and now my Nashville neighbors show a lack of consideration for me - a bit difficult to be joyful.  But still, I am here in Georgia for several days, surrounded by my old pine trees, and they have such a sweet fragrance.


Z said...

I'm so sad for you. You've had an awful year. I agree, the tree needs to be properly removed and a good replacement put there and I hope that you have a friend to support you in your argument. And it isn't okay anywhere to trespass on someone's land without permission. I'm sorry to say that people take advantage of an older woman living alone.

DJan said...

I am also very sad for you, VB. It could not have been a harder year to endure. And what a loss of that perfectly healthy tree by mistake. :-(

David said...

Hi Vagabonde,

Yikes...sad post! We've lost a lot of trees here. People bought the lot next door and the builder ripped down all the trees, even the 2 redbuds that the new neighbors and we had agreed to save... The builder had been told to repeatedly to keep them but they were bulldozed! Then there was the big Ash tree right next to our screened porch that died early this year. (Looks like another one is dying now) Big $$$ to take the first one down. All of the ash trees around here seem to be infected with the ash borer beetle.

Despite the fact that it will take forever for a new tree to grow to replace your second hackberry, I'd pursue that solution. It would at least be a small victory. We would have gone bonkers if that happened to us!

Also can't believe those workers in your yard! We're from Chicago and believe me, it wouldn't have worked there... FYI, we always had great neighbors there. In all my 77 years, I've only had one nasty neighbor...a Chinese doctor. I'm from Michigan, Missouri, Massachusetts and Chicago...now Knoxville TN. There are lousy people and thoughtless workers everywhere, that's for sure. We have gotten into arguments with a painter and a builder here when they didn't perform as requested or expected.

Thanks for all the information about hackberry trees. Nice to know! Best of luck with your new home... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

DUTA said...

Good photos of a sad reality caused by clash of cultures. However, that's the situation almost everywhere, even in France.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Oh my, how awful. Politeness has no borders it is just ignorance on an individual basis. I would be so angry that a tree of mine, especially one that gave shade, was cut down by mistake and would not accept that they were doing me a favor to get out of their mistake. I would want it replaced at their cost because they had no right to be on your property. The same with your neighbors, who should not have access to your property without your permission.

Jeanie said...

Oh, just reading this post makes me angry on so many levels. I hate the thought of cutting down a tree that is healthy or not threatening to person or property. And I would pursue replacement aggressively, even if you do not live to see the tree come to fruition. Either a new tree or better still, a HEAVY discount on the cutting of the other. That's unforgivable.

As for the back yard, that just makes me incredibly angry. Even if they have to be there, they can at least ask or notify you.

No, they were doing you no favor. If you have the energy to fight (and I know that takes a LOT of energy) I would fight that one tooth and nail. Legally, if necessary.

Kay G. said...

Oh my dear, what a time you have had! Bad neighbors are bad neighbors, no matter where you live. And trespassing is trespassing, period! Still, you have to pick your battles and maneuver carefully with those who live next to you. Hand in there! Anyone who can write like you, write a book about good neighbors and influence those trespassers!

Kay G. said...

Also, meant to say that I am with you on the loss of your trees. We live near a school, and they recently butchered all the trees! Either they were cut down or cut back so much that we think those will also die! Why? Not near power lines of even the school. Someone has it in for trees.🌳

Divers and Sundry said...

What a sad post :( So much for that famous Southern friendliness. I'm angry on your behalf at the incompetent, careless contractors (who should make this as right as they can without having to be made to) and at your neighbors (because isn't that trespassing? I mean, really, can't they be charged with trespassing?).

I am so sorry :(

Shammickite said...

I understand how you feel about your trees. The one in the front was probably ready to go, but cutting the other one is a disgrace. And the workers using your back yard is disgraceful and impolite too. You definitely need to demand compensation.
It has been a very hard year for you. I am sending my best healing thoughts to you.

Glenda Beall said...

I am so angry for you and I so understand how hard it is to fight when you are grieving already. I have been through some bad times and without your husband to support you, it is very difficult to go up against the big companies. I fought with Direct TV and Frontier for over a year but finally won my case when I sent a certified letter to the CEO of Frontier and explained my situation and my complaint. But you need to collect from these people who have done you wrong. Get some support and go after them. It is hard, but you are strong. You can do it.

Roderick Robinson said...

Truly sorry about the snafu - a word (actually an acronym) that seems to have more or less disappeared from the national vocabulary. I always liked the fact that the initials, run together, created a word that seemed to suggest, phonically, the situation it described. Even without knowing what the letters stood for, no would welcome a snafu, its very nasalness sounded objectionable.

And it is awful that a tree - surely a symbol of what's right with the world - could become in effect an enemy. The same thing happened in front of my neighbour's house. A pine tree which should never have been planted on a housing estate had become a giant, to the point where it was blocking the light from my neighbour's bedroom. Also its roots were threatening the sewage pipes. Somewhat distantly I admired the skill with which it was removed as I tried, simultaneously, to shut my mind to what was an act of destruction.

Your map evoked stage posts in my life. Hanover, location for the huge Messe, an industrial fair I've attended several times. Cologne (or rather Köln - as in Schumann's song Im Rhein, in heiligen Strome which I've been taught to sing) where we've visited the Christmas Market. Brussels a reminder of our Brexit sorrows. And Paris of a thousand memories; take one at random, in a St Germain-des-Prés restaurant I tried sea-urchin (oursin) for the first and last time; far, far too bitter.

But your post, although sad, was not bitter I think, and hope. Your highly individual voice reached out and touched me, resulting in a comment that is no doubt far too long.

Nadezda said...

Oh, my! I'm sad as well Vagabonde. Poor thing live hackberry tree! it was trimmed by mistake. Here we have a high birch tree, that is very old and can fall down by the strong wind. But the neighbors do not worry about,waiting what summer cottage it might fall on. But do not be sad, dear. The hackberry tree is alive and new branches will sprout soon.

Vicki Lane said...

That is so very sad. I think the arborists who made the mistake owe you a good sized tree. Heartbreaking...

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