Lileks: A hatchet job in the neighborhood

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 17, 2013 - 9:35 PM

The chain saws began after 7 a.m. the other day, and if you were still in bed you no doubt dreamed of being chased by enormous fanged leaf-blowers. It’s not a happy sound. If you’re the one sawing, it’s satisfying, like revving your motorcycle engine. Hear me flex, and marvel!

Then: silence. Then: an astonishing string of profanity. That! Word! Said! Loud! You can only assume the next voice will be the co-worker. Possible responses:

“They can sew that back on easy.” Or:

“It landed over there.” Or:

“Dang it, Stumpy, not again.”

But then there was laughter, and since blood loss, fainting and falling out of a box suspended in the sky aren’t funny — well, when it happens to you — it meant something else. What was he cursing about? After looking at the work, I knew: He had mistakenly trimmed the tree in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Hence the cursing. We had strict orders to maim this ash until it looked like something you see in a photo of the land between the trenches in WWI, and I’ve gone and shaped the limbs in a fashion pleasing to the eye. The boss is going to kill me.

Of course, you can always fix a good job of tree trimming with more motorized bark-maiming, and that’s what they did. When they were finished the entire street looked as if it had been visited by someone who hated trees and went into the trimming business to show them what-for.

The reason was obvious: The limbs were entangling the power lines. This summer’s strong winds snapped some lines, and naturally we all complained. Now they showed up to make sure the lines would be safe, and naturally we all complained about that, too.

Compromise. Leave some limbs, and when there’s a storm, we’ll be content if the lights just go dim for a while?

So it had to be done. But here’s a suggestion for future utility-related tree mauling: Paint the stumps the color of the bark. When there’s a dozen bright holes in the side of the tree, people know something was done, and weep over how things look worse. Paint them brown, and no one will notice a thing.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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