Sunday, May 28, 2006


Since the end of February we had been told that the trees would be cut down “next week”. Next week never seemed to come. We waited expectantly…hopefully…nervously. The guys working in the park told us that they’d cut down all five of our trees, even though we had permission to cut only three.

Four of the trees ran along the back fence. The cedar was dying, one of the junipers was very close to our house, one was very close to our neighbor’s house, and the last juniper was just in the middle. The tree we really wanted to get rid of was the large juniper that was closest to the house. Its constant shedding of needles and nuts creates such a mess, and it provides no shade, no breeze, nothing useful. Normally we consider ourselves tree-huggers, but in this case, we wanted all the trees gone. The other tree to be cut was one just outside our yard, right next to our neighbor Armando’s condominium.

While we were in the states we kept in touch with neighbors to see if the trees had been cut down, or if the roof had been cleaned. Each time we were disappointed to learn that no, nothing had happened. By the time we returned to Italy we were beginning to wonder if the trees would ever be cut down. We’d been told that they had to be cut down before May 15th, but later were told that no, because they weren’t hardwood trees, they could be cut anytime. But when?

We arrived home on Wednesday afternoon and of course weren’t surprised to see the trees still standing. Even more surprising was the fact that the park wasn’t near being finished. We could tell that progress had been made, but obviously it was a slow process. Perhaps rain had caused delays, or maybe another project had called the workers away for a time. Whatever the reason, things were more or less as they had been in mid March.

The huge cherry picker was parked just inside the park, right by our garage. We were hopeful that since it was still there it would be used to cut down the trees. On Wednesday evening, someone rang our doorbell. It was a man we’d never seen before, and he told us that our trees would be cut either Thursday or Friday morning. We tried to contain our excitement, but it was hard!

Of course Thursday came and went, but at 6:45 a.m. on Friday, the cherry picker was cranked up and began making it’s way slowly up the street. It was parked by our front door, in the area of the garages for the condominium. I woke Art up and told him to get dressed…this was something we were going to want to watch.

The cherry picker was braced, the chainsaw was sharpened, and the basket was lifted up and over Armando’s apartment, then swung around to our yard.  Limb by limb the trees were cut   until eventually all that was left looked like telephone poles.

I stood in the street watching and taking pictures and one of the men verified that we did not have permission to cut the tree closest to the house. I sighed and admitted that sadly we didn’t. I asked if they might possibly make a mistake and cut it anyway, but no. He suggested that we wait until next year, then ask for permission to cut it because it was making our roof dirty. I’m not sure this tactic will work, or how much it might cost, but perhaps we’ll consider it. For now we don’t even know if the commune will charge us for cutting the trees, and we’re scared to even think about how much it might cost.

Several trees in the park had been cut down while we were gone, so once our trees were cut too, the effect was striking. We could clearly see the church bell tower….and would later discover that the bells sounded much louder without the trees to buffer the sound. We now had morning sun in our yard! My sad little rosebush would now receive a good dose of afternoon sun, and the plants that had been selected for a shady yard would probably receive too much. What a difference!  The difference in the amount of sun we now receive, both in the morning and in the afternoon is incredible! My potted herbs should be sooooo happy this year!

As soon as I had taken a representative selection of pictures, I rushed inside to start baking cookies for the workers. I knew they’d take a break around ten o’clock, so I had plenty of time. I decided to bake the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that they liked so much before, and I also made some snicker doodles because I wanted to try a new recipe. It wasn’t much, but I wanted to do something personal for the workers, and they seemed to enjoy the cookies.

Over the next week or so I’m sure I’ll be doing a lot of thinking and planning about the backyard. The viburnum that I had to move because it was burning up in the afternoon sun may now get too much sun in the morning. The hydrangeas will probably have to be moved too.

I think I’ll buy another Paul McCartney rose to replace the one that’s still struggling, and hope that the combination of a new (hopefully healthier and hardier) plant and plenty of sunshine will work. I see so many rosebushes that are growing with little if any sun, yet mine struggles so much.  Perhaps there’s something in the roots of the juniper tree that’s toxic to roses. Maybe this particular bush was just a little backwards. If this second bush doesn’t thrive, then I’ll give up the idea of a rosebush in that location, and maybe try for a potted rose instead.

I’m sure my herbs will be much happier in their new sunny location, and my laundry will now have lots of sunshine. The only downside is that our patio area is now in full sun until late afternoon, making lunch on the patio out of the question. Our table doesn’t have a hole in the middle for an umbrella, so we’ll have to eat in the kitchen or move to the park across the street for a picnic lunch. All things considered, a small price to pay.


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