We bought our house partially for the trees. Other lots in the neighborhood were denuded patches of grass, easy to manage but sterile looking. We liked the shade and the snug feeling of living in a mini forest. After a few years, we realized that trees in Florida jump out of the ground and grow seven feet in a year. Too much of a good thing. We began to cut down trees growing close to the house, but missed a few along the way.
We had a lightning damaged laurel oak removed a few years ago, but another grew along the east fence by the back yard shed. It dropped branches down on the shed and pushed its thick trunk up against the power line. Three laurel cherries grew nearby and entangled the line in their foliage. A camphor, one half on our side, the other in the rental yard next door, stretched its branches over the east side of our house. We decided last year, right after we weathered Hurricane Irma, to remove looming threats wherever we could.
Seven men from Kevin’s Tree Service came yesterday and did the job in three hours. Drizzly rain fell intermittently, and the workers wasted no time. They brought a flatbed trailer for heavy branches and trunks, a bobcat front loader, a chipper, a bucket lift, a crane, rakes, a leaf blower and a several chain saws. They cut, hoisted, sawed, raked and chipped like busy beavers. A man wearing spiked boots let the crane lift him to the top of the laurel oak. He attached a loop to sections of the trunk and sawed beneath to let the crane lift the tree out part by part. The heavy trunk came last, and I hunkered down when the crane operator swung a twelve foot length over our roof. He managed to swivel it from the back yard, around the magnolia in the front, and down to the bottom of our driveway. Men chained sawed it into smaller sections, and the Bobcat scooped them up.
The crew finished just before heavy rains started to fall at midday. They cleared the yard, loaded equipment, and left soon after I signed papers and wrote a check. It all happened so fast.
Now we have more light shining down on our back yard. The power line hangs free and clear. We’re still surrounded by our mini forest, but it’s a bit thinner and not so close to the house.
Lots of jobs remain to do inside and outside our house, but I’m relieved that this one’s crossed off the list two days before hurricane season starts. Yesterday’s rain was a parting gift from Tropical Storm Alberto.
Work crews appeared in our neighborhood Thursday, and their trucks clustered a half mile away. They came closer and closer the next day. Around 4 p.m. I heard workers talking near my back yard. Our power line poles run the length of a drainage ditch behind our house. I walked out back and saw a man climbing into a viburnum bush-turned-tree near the southeast corner, and he chain-sawed to clear branches fallen on our line. Another worker appeared in the neighbor’s yard and used a saw on a long pole to cut from the other side.
A few minutes later our line sprung upwards a few feet, and ten minutes later it snapped into position higher than I’d ever seen it. The workmen left, and an hour later trucks from Duke Energy pulled up in front of our house. They blocked my driveway and the neighbors, but I didn’t care. I was ready after five days of soggy heat to run out and kiss their bumpers.
Power came on about twenty minutes later, and I saw the outside lights shining at the neighbor’s. I texted him. The power went off, however, after ten minutes. We saw men on the roof next door and in the back yard. A supervisor yelled something from the street. Our power came back, and I flipped the breaker for the AC unit. We waited five minutes for anything to happen, but then Blessed Relief clicked on and blew cool air from the vents. The inside temperature just before had been 86 degrees with 80% humidity, and the unit ran until 9:00 to get it down to 80 degrees.
Our neighbor knocked on our door that evening and reported that he had no power. I told him about the turn on-off-on and swore that I had seen his safety light burning in his carport. He came back a few minutes later with a notice he’d found hanging on his door. It read, “Power line repaired. Damage to meter can. Contact an electrician to fix.” He trudged home and started his generator.
Joe lives in a rental unit managed by a real estate company that only makes repairs after tenants move out. The owner refuses to remove dead trees even when they loom over the house, and can be stubborn about plumbing issues. The power, most likely, won’t be coming back on unless Joe pays for the repairs himself. He’s already cleared away branches from the tree that had fallen, hit the house, and snapped his line. The trunk still needs to be chopped, and I’ve agreed to loan Joe my axe.
The next evening I heard a car pull into his driveway. Joe had visitors. Seconds later I heard two men yelling, “Paco! Paco!” The neighbor’s pit bull escaped when Joe opened the door to let a friend inside. The yelling went on at intervals into the wee hours, and I heard a few “Paco!”s the next morning.
The Prodigal Dog made his unwilling return Sunday afternoon. Someone in the neighborhood had found him after Joe put up a notice on a community message board. The power’s still off, however, and Paco might be planning a new escape. I wouldn’t blame him.