Friday, November 30, 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Great Neighborhood Tree War

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

~Trees by Joyce Kilmer

No, I’m not talking about Lord of the Rings and Ents here… though Treebeard was a pretty cool character. What I’m talking about is the healthy, massive, heritage Oak tree in my back yard.

I’ve no idea how tall or how old it is; the farmer who owned the land here back in the day—back when it was farm land and not houses on postage-stamp-sized lots, that is—planted it, and a Spruce, on either side of his driveway. Ages later, when they built this house, they were careful to keep the tree as is. I’m careful too. After all, I love the big old boy. And it actually works for its keep too, providing shade for this house and the nice neighbor’s house as well. See, it overhangs the nice neighbor’s fence, and has for years… long before I ever moved here, I‘m guessing. But no one minded. In fact, the nice neighbor asked that the tree remain exactly as it is as well, which suited me just fine. I mean, it’s not like I can jump on a ladder and trim it up anyway—it being the biggest somebitch within a five mile radius, matched only by the heritage Spruce, which is still alive and well in the nice neighbor’s back yard, thank you. So, everything should be happily ever after, right?


The nice neighbor sold his house last Spring to a company based out of Sylvan Lake, who promptly turned it into a duplex and rented it out. Still, it shouldn’t be a big deal, right?

Wrong again.

I received a letter from the city yesterday. Seems the company doesn’t much care for my big old Oak tree. It wants the many massive limbs hacked off at the fence line between our two properties, which may or may not kill the old Oak outright. Now it’s a big deal.

Anyway. So I looked out today and noticed that the heritage Spruce in their back yard is half in my back yard, the Spruce snug up tight against the fence between us, its limbs hanging well into my property. Hmm. Dilemmas, dilemmas. See, I’m thinking this could quickly become ‘neighbor rage‘—right? Yep, it sure could. Not that I have anything against the people living there. I don’t. They only rent the place. No, it’s the company from Sylvan that I have a problem with. Especially if removing the offending Oak’s limbs (that are a good thirty plus feet off the ground and so are not in anyone’s way nor apt to be a nuisance) ends up killing something almost as old as the town itself.

To me, writing is very much like a tree. It starts out as an sapling of an idea and, once planted, takes root and grows. Of course, not everyone will like every bit of your tree/work, including you. So some pruning will be needed, and that begs the question: how much? How much can one prune before the story isn’t the same story anymore?--before you‘ve killed or ruined it? That then dominos into the next question: should you write for the readers, or for yourself? Depends on how popular you want to be, I suppose. Like me and the overhanging Spruce I’m about to report. Oh yes, I’m not going to be very popular I think. But hey, all’s fair in love and tree wars.
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