[Editor Note: Edward is a long-time Wallingford resident that answered the call for new writers. This is his first story. Thank you, Edward, for contributing. He also attended the recent Wallyhood meeting where free, fancy mugs were distributed. Wallyhood happily welcomes Edward and all new writers with a toast from our fancy mugs. You should also write a story and possibly get a fancy mug.]
There’s nothing like the abundant and gorgeous trees in Wallingford. Or maybe not. When we moved here many years ago, there was a beautiful weeping willow tree on our neighbor’s property. Sure, it shed leaves, but it wasn’t ours. All we had to do was gaze appreciatively at its graceful hanging branches. Wrong. Within a month, we discovered that this tree had snaked its roots into our sewer line and was spread as luxuriously beneath the soil as on top. “A whole world of roots down there,” the rooter operator remarked.
We tolerated having our sewer line cleaned out annually for a few years. Finally the root people told us the clay sewer tiles, originally installed when the house was built in 1916, were hopelessly broken up by roots. Not just from the willow tree but also from a large fir, also on the neighbor’s property. So we had to have the sewer line replaced with plastic piping. Expensive as well as time-consuming as part of it had to be dug out by hand.
At one point I was horrified to see a worker tunneling under another tree in our front yard, an attractive gingko. He was literally digging through its roots. What if the soil collapsed and crushed him? Who’d dig him out? Liability issues? Would me and my gingko be responsible? Fortunately, the near crisis passed.
Both offending trees were finally cut down , but not our un-cutdown sewer replacement bill.
End of tree problems? Not quite. Again, many years ago, the city gave out free trees to be planted on parking strips. We selected and planted a cute little maple tree which didn’t stay that way long. It has become immense, bulging the ground around it, and now buckling the sidewalk. It was promoted as a good city tree at the time. Now the city arborist considers it unsuitable for city streets. Worse, it grows into the power line overhead, necessitating one of those brutal city butcherings which look like a giant scissors has gashed an ugly “v” in the top of the tree. Its roots have gotten into a short connecting portion of the sewer that extends from our property across the city-owned parking strip to the main trunk line. More subterranean problems – our responsibility, though, not the city’s. Can the tree be removed? No, it’s city-owned.
Menaces from the air as well – behind us on another neighbor’s property is an enormous Italian poplar tree, one of the tallest trees in Wallingford. And in a gale wind, not completely unknown in these parts, should it be uprooted, guess whose house it would crush? Fortunately, most gale winds are westerly and would blow the tree away from us to the east. But then, there are exceptions, one being an ancient cherry tree in our backyard which rotted at the base and did topple over, to the west, missing our house by inches.
Finally, a second evergreen on another neighbor’s property that in a westerly storm would collapse and fall top of our living room where we’d be peacefully watching tv. Then there was a huge monkey puzzle tree which for unknown reasons disappeared before our time, but we’ve seen pictures of it. Who knows what diabolical damage was being plotted in its wooden heart from which we were spared?
The point of all this tree-trashing? Just a cautionary tale for home owners to ponder when they think they have “never seen a poem as lovely as a tree.”