What the Hell

What the Hell

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Be Careful What You Wish For

When I was a kid growing up in north Texas, we were surrounded by scrubby little mesquite trees.  Good for smoking barbecue, but not good for much else.  Shade?  Forget it.  Suffer through those 110 degree summers without the help of a shade tree, thank you.  If you traveled to East Texas, where I spent my summers at camp, you had thick stands of pine trees.  They would provide blissful shade amongst the thick cushion of fallen pine needles that blanketed the forest floor and also blocked out every sound outside of the forest once you were 10 feet inside.  I loved those trees.  And I longed for maple trees, something we really didn't have in our hot area.  I wistfully flipped through photos in magazines of maples in gorgeous shades of yellow, orange and deep crimson in the Fall.  We had a state park down in south Texas called "Lost Maples," the idea being that if there were maple trees in Texas, it was because the poor things had taken a wrong turn...we traveled there early in my marriage and I remember oohing and aching over their uniqueness.  Well, like the title suggests, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.  You might get it, and it might not be what you want at all...!

I left Texas in 1997 for the west coast and sunny Los Angeles county.  We lived in North Hollywood for three and a half years, and although the culture shock nearly did us both in, we grew to love the west.  We then transferred up to the Puget Sound area in the Northwest in 2001, and have been here ever since.  We bought our first home, a 1917 Craftsman bungalow, in Kent, Washington (a suburb of Seattle) and set ourselves to restoring it to its former glory.  We put in a beautiful herb garden in the back yard where it was impossible to get grass to grow, due to the shade of a huge stand of mature big leaf MAPLE trees.  The herb garden was a delight, albeit an incredible amount of physical work.  But those maple trees.....ARRRRGHHHH!  They were on a parcel between our house and the neighbor behind us, which was actually city property, an easement that had been originally designated to be turned into an alleyway, but that was never actually built.  So between the neighbor and us, we shared the 30 or so feet, and watched the maple trees as they ominously began to drop limbs on her property and ours as they became diseased.  Calls to the city followed, but nothing was done.  A huge limb came down in a wind storm onto our garage and pierced the roof shingles, which we repaired.  The new metal and glass patio table by Martha Stewart for K-Mart did not fare so well, however.  It was smashed flat, or let us say to a depth of about 3 inches.  Photos were taken to document the damage, more phone calls were made, but it wasn't until our enterprising elderly neighbor mentioned the word "lawsuit" on our behalf that the city finally sent out a tree service to take out the offenders.  We celebrated with a nice dinner out and toasted our good fortune.  Of course we had to dispatch the remaining stumps to tree heaven by drilling 12 inch holes in them and feeding them poison followed by a boiling water chaser, but that is another story for another time...

It wasn't only the falling limbs that was the bane of our existence there in Kent.  It was the PROPELLERS.  These are the seed pods by which the big leaf maples reproduce in their hogging the resources, take over the planet and leave no survivors sort of way.  Every winter these seed pods with their attached propellers (think helicopter action from the limb downward resulting in a firmly planted seed) would come down by the hundreds, if not thousands.  Then in the spring, like clockwork, every where a propeller-generated seedpod had fallen, VOILA!  A new baby maple tree.  I spent every spring we were in that house (9 of them to be exact) pulling up THOUSANDS of these maple sprouts, cursing my naive younger self wishing for maple trees.  I now had them in spades, damn it.  

They still haunt me today, although in smaller numbers.  And I no longer have the herb garden to clear of the offending sprouts since we have moved to the island.  But they are still there, as evidenced by the photos above.  So, bear in mind that just because we think we want something desperately doesn't mean it will be good for us.  We have little idea of what we really want.  That's one of the multitude of frustrations of this life.  Just remember this next time you find yourself thinking of something you think you just can't live without...Just sayin.'

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