“If a Tree Falls in the Backyard, Does It Make a Sound If Only the Mail Carrier Is There to Hear It?”
Now, first off, I’m not complainin’.
But the skies around here have been pretty unstable lately, with words like “low pressure system” and “cold front” being bandied about by the weatherheads. Translation: it’s blessedly cool and lovely…but it’s also raining in eight-minute-spates about five times each day. That, too, is good and fine. We likes the water here in garden country.

However, the other day, the Weather God got into a bit of a snit and stirred up a day of seriously-strong wind gusts. Exhibit A: I was attemtping to exit my favorite coffee shop, iced hazelnut latte in paw, when I was suddenly, completely, literally unable to push the door open. I turned my back to the door, even, and put my legs behind it. No luck. I couldn’t budge the door even a fraction, as it was held shut by the wind.

Fortuitously, a nice woman, her skirt tossed up over her ears (thank heavens she opted to wear her knickers that windy morning, even if they were of the dingey grey granny variety), blew up to the building and worked the door from the other side. Our combined female might finally did the job.

Still skeptical about the force of the gusts? I give you, then, Exhibit B (formerly known as Our Park-Like Backyard):

Yea, so we gusted home that day from the coffee shop and various errand runnings, only to discover that one of our lovely trees had dramatically toppled onto our neighbors’ fence. According to all laws of Nature, of course, it was predestined that the fence be spankin’ new, the screws barely dry, the paint barely drilled in. The only witness to the blowdown was the mail carrier, who was still breathless and awed as he recounted the moment of “tiiiimmmmbbber” to us; later that evening, he began a continued stalking of the downed tree when he drove by it several times, his wife in tow, before ultimately converting his mail truck into a tour bus that he now uses to shuttle passengers down the alley on a daily schedule of 1 p.m, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. (his microphoned commentary of “The Mighty Arbor met its fate under dour skies on July 10th, in the year of Our Lord two-thousand-ought-ought-seven” is already wearing on us).
So now we have a little disaster in the backyard, and I don’t mean The Wee Niblet pouting on the swing mid-afternoon, when his needs for a nap and a snack combine to make him a fearsome beast. No, I mean we have this big, dead, formerly luscious tree laying like a passed-out sorority girl, unconscious atop our recently-transplanted raspberry canes.
And I find that

I mourn the loss of the tire swing that hung from its branches.

I mourn the loss of the knotted climbing rope that led neighborhood children up the bark.

I mourn the loss–deep in my gut–of the tree itself, for the whole thing, even that which still stands upright, has to come down, and its corpse must undergo a complete hack-job. Quite out of proportion to the event itself, I mourn the death of this glorious old behemoth. I am profoundly, even mawkishly, sad.

But even more deeply and profoundly, I mourn the clean-up estimate dropped with a loud clang onto our checkbook today by the local tree service. That’s got my heart hurting more than anything, for our bank account had already been severely depleted by the recent big road trip and rental of the U-Haul. And now this new bill looms larger than any sale of Hummels and vintage Rosenthal china (my mom bought it in France in 1960, and we have 88 pieces of it, and it’s not at all foofy, and you know you want it!) can recoup.

*big sigh of financial woe*

The Children would so have enjoyed college, too.

Without a college education, they’ll be virtually useless, right? Sans degree, I’m pretty sure they’ll never be able to support us handsomely in our dotage, and isn’t that the point of progeny?
Thus, the sign on my front lawn needs to change from “Hummels for Sale” to “Children for Sale.” One of them can just about push the vacuum, and the other is able to laze in the bathtub for an hour and a half without supplemental oxygen. Clearly, they are valuable additions to any household that almost needs vacuuming and is short on air. I’ll even toss in a discount if you buy both kids AND the Rosenthal china, ‘k? Like five dollars off.
So here’s the deal: you buy ’em; you send ’em to college; and then you send ’em back here to Ma and Pa. By then, we may have just about paid off the damn tree debt.
But you can keep the china.





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33 responses to “”

  1. Keshi Avatar

    oops thats one MASSIVE tree!


  2. my4kids Avatar

    Oh wow that looks like a big mess. I would have been sad about the memories lost with it of the kids playing and the view itself. Also the chunk out of the checkbook would have hurt badly also…..

  3. AmyTree Avatar

    Wow, that’s quite a tree!! Maybe you could just apprentice the kids to the Tree Service..?

  4. Irene Avatar

    Oh boy. The prolific poet Joyce Kilmer himself would have been properly aghast by your mighty fallen tree crisis! ;p

    I very much enjoyed your wonderfully written post. I’m really glad I chanced upon your highly amusing blog. Keep at it! 🙂

  5. Diana Avatar

    Well, THAT’S just sad. I do see an out with regard to not having to sell the kids. See, each of them becomes incredibly good at some varsity sport, preferentially something that not only comes with scolarships but (here’s the really brilliant part) also is one that people will pay trillions for. Thus, enabling them to get their little selves educated, pay off the tree, AND see ma and pa nicely settled in that little air conditioned condo in Florida. Or Yuma. I vote for baseball for Niblet, as they usually avoid the horrible limb-severing injuries. And how about golf for Girl?

    (You hit it on the head, there, Jocelyn. The poor tree does look like a passed-out sorority girl.)

  6. yinyang Avatar

    I remember being little and coming home from the grocery store with my mom, fighting against the wind to make it to our house. I also remember one time when the school had to call us in because the wind was gusting so hard the flying sand hurt, among other things (one kid almost became airborne because he was holding his jacket like a sail).

    I’ve only ever seen trees toppled by the weight of snow, though.

    Good luck with your woes; hope you find a decent family for the kids. The kid market is sort of full right now. Can you pass them off as African or Asian so some celebrity might adopt them?

  7. Jazz Avatar

    Does the cost of removing the tree include the cost of fixing the neighbor’s fence? Cause if so you better start making new children to sell…

    Oh, and by the way, you’ve been tagged.

  8. Glamourpuss Avatar

    And what of the raspberry canes? You do tease…

    As to children, you can always make some more – unlike the china.

    (Actually, why not apprentice progeny to Tree Service – a useful trade and they will be fed and sheltered)

  9. Em Avatar

    Wow, that is some serious tree downage. It is sad to see such a stately tree meet its end, but perhaps the wood can be used to warm you in the winter?

    And Jocelyn, you never fail to make me laugh out loud and snort coffee. Even a semi-disaster is told in a way that makes me giggle. I’ve started to even look for your comments on other people’s blogs cause you write such funny comments, too.

    I know, I should get a life, huh?

  10. susan Avatar

    (Hey Jos…I think you have a stalker!!)

    Maybe I could just take your kids until the teen years. You could have a few expense free years and I could remember how fun the little kids are. I’m not doing this teen stuff again though!

  11. furiousBall Avatar

    see that’s why you don’t make a bar bet with Paul Bunyan, I don’t care if he does through in the ox. Seriously, he CAN stack $100 worth of quarters on his forearm and catch them all. He’s a freakin’ giant!

  12. oreneta Avatar

    It’s so sad when trees come down…and the bill, I have friends who paid out $1000!

  13. MyUtopia Avatar

    Wow, big tree! The on again off again storms here are driving everyone crazy!

  14. Voyager Avatar

    Oh poor tree and its now useless tire swing. Last week we took a huge tree down in our yard that was dying, and a clear threat to our house and others. It was only one or two windstorms away from looking like yours does now. Somehow it’s easier to make the decision to let a tree go and have it removed, (I could not actually watch the lumberjacks do the deed) than lose it accidentally. Cheaper too!
    Sorry for your loss. Of the tree and your kid’s college tuition.

  15. Hammer Avatar

    Glad it missed the house.

    Buy chain saw and sell it for fire wood. That should help 😉

  16. Claire Avatar

    Come on, can’t the Groom man-up, rent a chainsaw and do that job himself?
    Sorry about the loss of your tree.

  17. Jeannie Avatar

    Don’t you have insurance?

  18. Diesel Avatar

    Ok, so I have to know. Did you purposefully type:

    the screws barely dry, the paint barely drilled in

    Or was that a spoonerism? I’m guessing you did it on purpose, but it would be fascinating to me if it was really an accident.

  19. Jocelyn Avatar

    Diesel–Writerly as I am, I typed it that way on purpose. I was counting on you to catch it, of course.

  20. urban-urchin Avatar

    I’m so sorry that sucks. does your insurance cover any of this?

  21. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar


    I’m so sorry about the tree (and the bill.) It’s always a sad thing when such an old entity dies. It sounds as if the mailman may be the next to go.

    We inherited a Hummel from Flip’s aunt. He lives in a closet with several tool boxes and a vacuum cleaner because I don’t like Hummels very much, even while I am able to admire the workmanship.

  22. Fresh Hell Avatar
    Fresh Hell

    When I decided to go to college, my mother said, “Well, you’ll have to work to pay for it, but I thing it’s a good idea.” She was very supportive, though not financially and I managed to muttle through with a degree… at 30 years old… and seven years later, I’ve barely made a dent in the loans.

    Moral of the story: Encourage the kiddies to get a degree that includes a payday!

  23. lime Avatar

    oh i can totally understand mourning the tree. as for the economic issues…i have a solution….

    apprentice them out to the tree cutter upper and hauler awayer….he obviously makes obscene amounts of money and thus proves your children won’t need that college education, they can be tree cuttueruppers….

  24. Lone Grey Squirrel Avatar
    Lone Grey Squirrel

    Perhaps you could join forces with your mailman and start charging for tours to the famous tree?

  25. velvet Avatar

    What a mess!

    Oh, heck, you twisted my arm. Keep the kids. I’ll get the chainsaw and my axe and I’ll be on the first plane out.

  26. Lone Grey Squirrel Avatar
    Lone Grey Squirrel

    I have something over at my blog that might help you forget for a few seconds your tree woes. I am calling you a Schmoozer. Hurry over to find out why.

  27. frannie Avatar

    so sorry about the tree.

    if you are serious about wanting to sell your china try replacements lmtd… they buy it.

  28. Pendullum Avatar

    Wow…The true power of nature…
    Awe inspiring…

  29. Logophile Avatar

    OK, crazy wind storm, my sympathies on your tree, the neighbor’s fence and your children’s futures.
    They are awfully cute, maybe it’s time to get them a cardboard sign and a tin cup. Do they sing or dance? You can leave them out on the sidewalk while you are in getting your coffee.

  30. Steve Avatar

    I feel your pain. Rick’s Tree Service is on speed dial.

  31. Moosekahl Avatar

    A fellow transplanted Montanan! Yeah!! At least you are up north where there are some trees, even if they have blown over. I’m heading back to God’s Country Saturday for a two week vacation…i’ll be sure to post pictures. Nice to meet you.

  32. Mother of Invention Avatar
    Mother of Invention

    Wow! Now that would have been something to see! Well, from a distance further than in your yard or near your neighbour’s fence!

    So, is this an Act of God that insurance people won’t look at?!

  33. Shari Avatar

    Maybe you could put in an advertisement:

    Free wood. You chop and haul.

    Sorry about the loss of your tree.

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