A Few Words About the Trees

There are two large deciduous trees blocking a clear view of the Reach at the far side of my property:

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The leftward tree obscures the view of my neighbor’s house across the field; right next to it is the other tree. These trees are marked for execution, and before the end of the summer, I hope, they will be gone. They have to go not because they block my water view but because they have grown up inconveniently, among the electrical wires. In fact, the rightward trees has grown right around the guide wire that serves several other properties, and the power will have to be suspended when the trees come down so that no one dies while the work is being done.

I hired someone to deal with the trees last fall, but despite the fact that he requested extra money for the tree removal once he saw the situation for himself, he took no action. Growing anxious to have something done, I mentioned this in a text to the excavator, Ben Webb, Tuesday during one of the long, rambling texts I send my workmen in spite of the fact that they do exactly as they please, neither listening to my orders nor following through on my suggestions. Writing the texts makes me feel better, like I am in control of the situation, even though the carpenter’s last reply to me was, “I didn’t understand half of what you said.”

Ben is an interesting person. The grandson of the man who ran Sargentville’s general store — when there was still a store in the village — he is a visible member of the local community, and everyone knows him. He is unhurried, amiable, and pragmatic. I ask him questions about things unrelated to driving an earth moving machine, and he doesn’t really know how to respond; he is a specialist, not a generalist, and unlike most men, he doesn’t pretend to know things that are outside his realm. Nevertheless, he seems authoritative. Even the dogs appear to think so. They don’t bark at him the way they persistently bark at the other members of his crew. They quietly approach and sniff his shoes, and sometimes he thinks to pet them.

The same day I wrote to Ben that the tree guy I’d hired was awol, I received a brief text from the latter — “Please give me a call.” The tree guy is in some kind of crisis and cannot take on the job, and he has been avoiding me. I assure him that I will have ongoing work for him and try to be sympathetic. Ben may have phoned to give him the head’s up that I was looking for another person to do the job. He probably did, but he would never mention that to me. Nor would he tell me anything about the tree guy’s travails. He is not a gossip, more of a connector, in Malcolm Gladwell’s sense of the word.

Meanwhile, I had stopped outside Blue Hill at a sign that says “Firewood for Sale” and met another tree guy named, appropriately enough, Dennis Wood. Wood is a giant of a man whose elderly mother opened the door to me and came outside to chat with me about the beautiful summer weather we’ve been having while her son got done “out back.” I love a place where it is acceptable to stop at a house and do business on the fly. He drove down to my place a few hours later, took a look, and explained the situation with the trees. He has a guy “with a bucket” who can take them down but recommended that I phone the electric company first to see if I could get them to do the job for free.

When I called Emera Maine this morning, I learned that there has been a standing work order on these trees since June. Perhaps one of the neighbors phoned it in? Of course, no action has been taken. They assured me they would “find out what was going on” with the order and give me a call.

Somehow I feel skeptical.

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