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.