Saturday, March 24, 2007

This Is The End, Beautiful Friend

Last weekend, my son was telling me how much he likes living in our apartment. He likes having a backyard. He likes living near the park that he plays baseball at. He likes the wood floors.

When I moved into this place about 8 1/2 years ago, there were things I liked about it. I liked that it was a safe neighborhood that my son could play outside in-- this was not always the case at his mother's home. I liked the big kitchen, having a dishwasher, the back porch with a porch swing, a basement with a washer and dryer hook-up, and like my son, I liked the wooden floors-- I'd grown up, until my family moved to the suburbs, in Chicago apartments with beautiful hardwood floors.

And I liked the trees.

Ironically, when my family moved from the northwest side of Chicago to a cookie-cutter suburb when I was ten, I lost the trees. Chicago's streets had big, beautiful trees. In the late sixties and early seventies, we lost most of the elms to Dutch Elm Disease, but we still had maples, oaks and other trees. The suburb I lived in initially, Streamwood, had been a soybean farm before that. The trees were all glorified sticks at that point.

We later moved to Western Springs, which had big, old trees, but the people, with a few notable exceptions, sucked.

When I graduated college in 1985, I moved back to the north side of Chicago, with its trees and its apartments with hardwood floors.

A few weeks back I posted about everything in my life being broken-- my laptop, my car and even a water main in front of my home.

During a stretch of very cold weather, water mains broke all over the city. We (and our neighbors) called the city, who told us that this rash of breaks was a "mini-Katrina." Since we still had water-- some people had gone over a week without water-- our situation was not a priority.

The ice spread as the leak continued. It spread up to our doorstep, fortunately not spilling into the basement. It spread into the front yards and onto the sidewalks of the houses two doors to the east and west of us. It spread into the street, freezing several cars in. The ice was probably 6 or 7 inches thick in parts.

When my wife and stepdaughter fell down one morning, and my wife called our alderman, suddenly my wife had a direct line with the head of the city waterworks, who had some of the ice cleared, and salt poured onto the sidewalks.

Finally, the all the utility companies started coming by and marking off their lines-- a sure sign that the city was going to come by and dig.

Finally, they came by with a backhoe and repaired the water main. Unfortunately, in the process, they tore up the street....

...and our tree.

We feared the worst. A few mornings ago, our fears were realized. City workers came and cut down our tree, which the other idiots had killed while repairing our water main.

Everyone around here was upset. That tree had to be at least 60 or 70 years old.

My landlord is working with the city to choose a replacement. But it won't grow much in the five years before my son goes off to college.

At least he's still got the wooden floors and the backyard.

He's been looking forward to sitting around the firepit that my landlord bought last year.

In the spirit of making lemonade from lemons, we're now well-stocked with firewood. My landlord and I dragged it to the backyard before the city took it away.

I know we'll be creating some nice memories on the cool nights this spring, summer and fall that we sit around the firepit, but there'll be a tinge of sadness every time we burn part of that tree.


Skylers Dad said...

Man, I am sorry to hear about losing the tree. It is good that you are going to use it for firewood though, better than the city hauling it to a dumpsite.

Anon. Blogger said...

Sorry for the tree! You know how I feel about trees!

My Ironwood is looking pretty good, still. But it can sure take a while. Seems like your tree went pretty fast. I guess ice on broken roots is pretty harsh stuff.

I used to live in Streamwood! That is where my first home was when I was married. It was one of those millions of raised ranches with the kitchen in the lower level. It was the first of many homes that we updated / improved and profited from. It had twin oak trees in the front yard.

Also.... my daughter and I put together a fire pit table yesterday! Ours is propane, tho. Fire hazards in the desert make wood fires a little spooky to me.

Enjoy the fire pit and stock up on grahams, hershey, and marshmellows. Yummmmm.

lulu said...

That's so sad. There was a great tree outside the living room window of my old apartment, and I cried the day the city lopped most of the branches off. The one upside I found though was that my apartment was much sunnier and brighter without the tree. Small comfort, but it did make lounging on the couch and reading in the afternoon much nicer.

It's great that you got the wood for the firepit though, enjoy.

GETkristiLOVE said...

I'm sad about your tree. My father had a huge, old tree cut down in our yard when we lived in Indiana because the roots were buckling the sidewalk and the yard just seemed lonely and naked after that.

Bubs said...

God, city workers. Sorry about your tree. But, it's cool that you have wood for that fire ring, and now the wood means something too. Have a glass of red wine and say a few kind words over the tree when you burn part of it.

Danielle said...

The city should replace the tree. Living now in Las Vegas but being from Boston I miss the tree lined streets. Your photos brought back memories for me. I would have saved some logs even though I don't have a fireplace, could've created something with the wood.

All the off to see how you and axel rose got down.