Wednesday, April 12, 2006


"Woe, woe, woe!" called the voice. Woe for my brothers and sisters! Woe for the holy trees! The woods are laid waste. The axe is loosed against us. We are being felled. Great trees are falling, falling, falling."
Voice of the Dryad, Chapter 2, The Last Battle, by C. S. Lewis

Last fall, our neighbor two doors down came over asking about property lines. He was having his land surveyed and they were looking for a point of reference and wanted to know if we knew of any survey pins from when our survey was last done. Apparently there may have been some dispute of the line between his property and the neighbor in between us. My husband talked with him and showed him where the pins were, and I didn't give it much more thought.

Until a couple weeks ago.

We live in a fairly rural, wooded area, and so it is not uncommon to hear the sounds of outdoor machinery from time to time...tractors doing this or that. I noticed, however, that I'd heard the sound of a chain saw a few days in a row and I started to wonder about it. Then one day, as I glanced down the road, I saw a team of horses in the yard of our neighbor two doors down. I knew these to be the horses of an Amish team of men who clear land and buy the wood for whatever their purposes are. I'm not sure how a chain saw fits in to the Amish way of life, but they use the horses to skid the logs to where they need them to be.

Anyway, I assumed our neighbor must be thinning out his property, as some people do from time to time. My husband does the same here and at his parents' house, taking out the dead and diseased trees to open up space for the younger, healthier trees to grow. But two doors down, the chain saw kept going and going until I glanced out my kitchen window earlier this week and, looking across the property of the neighbor between us, I could see a vast open area where there had not been one before. Dozens and dozens of trees had been felled, their limbless trunks lying all over the upper yard of the man's property.

It was devastating to see. He'd cleared virtually the entire lot. I wanted to cry. The wife from the couple who lives between my house and the tree killer property clearer was outside yesterday and we talked briefly. I felt most the need to offer condolences. "I'm so sorry," I said. "I can't believe what they've done next door!" She shrugged helplessly, clearly feeling the loss of what had been a beautiful area destroyed in the name of subdivision and profit. She and her husband work hard to keep their property beautiful and healthy and alive. I've often been jealous of the gorgeous sanctuary they've created that has most of the birds in the area vying for a spot at their feeders. And while there is still a narrow strip of tall, old trees between their property and the next land over, it will do little -- even after the leaves are full and green -- to buffer them from whatever else the man next door plans to do. I feel terrible for them, like they've been violated. I feel like we've been violated, even two doors away from the destruction. I feel the same way for the land. Whatever the reasons, the fact is that it's been ravaged and it will take generations to begin to mitigate the loss that has been incurred.

Some things, I just do not understand.

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