Written Sunday –
Since December, the weather has been awesome. I mean really sunny and much warmer than usual with very little rain. It is the best kept state secret that the weather is so much better than anyone would guess.
This winter has just been outstandingly beautiful… until yesterday.
Now, I am not saying it was apocalyptic by any means. That would be what we had in the fall when our huge carport and small greenhouse tried to go to Oz attempting to take two turkeys with them. Those winds were just plain scary.
Naw, we just had some rain. Steady rain starting yesterday and going through the night and off and on today is what I’m talking about. Two inches or so total, but the ground was pretty parched and maybe a bit hard packed. We passed many fields today that had water sitting on top making swampy grass.
Then the winds picked up a little. Nothing horrible, but some decent gusts, so the streets were littered with tree bits and parts. Portland experienced some power outages, but our area was mostly mild.
We had been out and about running errands and arrived home about 5pm. As we were passing the turkeys, our neighbors flagged us down from their parallel driveway. Their arms were flapping and we could see a brain trust of three analyzing a tree.
They were talking about how it was leaning and that it was going to come down one way or another. We offered our help and went to park the car. Now, while we were talking to them, we couldn’t really quite see the problem because we were looking at the tree straight on. Then, as we went further down the driveway, we could see that it was really leaning directly toward where we stopped the car on the driveway…you know the car that we have purchased most recently and hope to keep for a long time. Oops. The neighbors must have thought we were nuts to stop there! LOL!
Anyway, it was leaning quite a bit and the direction it was falling was not good. The tree’s crash path was including, the neighbor’s driveway, our fruit trees, our driveway, and the turkey enclosure. Explains a lot about why the turkeys were attempting some interspecies birthing – they were having a cow! As we came back out, the neighbor had been working at cutting the tree as high as they could reach with a chain saw, so that less of it would fall on our property. We got to them after it had just fallen and had knocked the stuffing out of our almond tree and come within 5 inches of the fence of the enclosure.
Had they not cut it high up, we would have all been chasing turkeys and maybe chickens in the wind and rain. Mark grabbed his chain saw and the five of us started in on dissecting the 50 foot tree. Oh yeah, did I mention this was no city tree? It was a mere babe in Pacific Northwest terms, but pretty darn tall…I mean long at this point, as it was now horizontal. Now, overall, none of this was that scary or upsetting, just life in the woods. You count your blessings that power lines were not touched, driveways were both intact and clearable, animals were not injured, and only the neighbor’s tree and our tree were casualties. Great, but this is only where the magic begins.
We had just gotten going on clean up, when a second set of neighbors emerges from their house across their acres and joins in to help. The way it works is that our road and property border our neighbor’s easement (driveway road for those who don’t know) and their easement is a strip of road that borders this other set of neighbor’s property. So now we had seven adults cutting and clearing the tree and getting the debris chunked up and put on the back of a truck to move it all to a wood pile and slash pile.
The work ended up not taking that long, but, during the work, conversation ensued. I had the one set of neighbors with the easement telling me that the almond tree didn’t look like it was going to make it and “since their tree caused the damage” they could replace it and help dig the old one out. Then the neighbors on the other side of the easement started in. They started with wanting us to come and give them the bill when we replace the tree that “their tree had caused damage to”. The tree that came down was right there on the border between their two properties, probably part of the easement, but BOTH families were jumping in to lay claim on the tree that fell.
The only finger pointing going on was to point out the damage the tree had caused and point to themselves as the people who would take responsibility. In a world where NO ONE seems to want to take any responsibility these days, where fear of being sued causes people to point the blame at others, here were people jumping and fighting over to be the ones to take ownership.
Meanwhile, Mark and I were telling them that the tree might live and, if it didn’t, they were not expensive and we had no problem taking care of it. Add to it that we are all working together. The feeling was foreign, but could only be described as true community. We equated it to something like an Amish barn raising. A community coming together. Stop and think about that.
When was the last time you made solid eye contact with your neighbors and exchanged more than a “good day” or “how’s it going?” and were invested in their response. Don’t get me wrong, we have had a couple of nice neighbors that we enjoyed talking to and such, but what we experienced was community. Nobody, shut the blinds and looked away. They grabbed their muck boots and tromped out in the mud and didn’t think of how they could avoid dealing with the situation. Words can’t describe it.
Just another addition to my list of why I live in Oregon.