My wife wrote to tell me about the chainsaws. Her first impression was that there was probably a crew down the street working on the Italian Cypress that had been set afire over the past week or so. Maybe they were going to take them all out to alleviate the arsonist's temptation. But the sound wasn't coming from down the street. It was coming from our back yard.
This is where my wife found the chainsaws. They were busy taking the limbs off the eucalyptus trees that towered above us on the hill behind our house. Upon further investigation, my wife discovered that the grove that had been the barrier between us and urban living was coming down. This was the considered reaction of our neighbor, who apparently came full circle from the moment when we first began to inquire about the acacia tree that had split and fallen into our yard. At first, he was certain that the tree was not his, nor was the odd-shaped lot that contained the pocket forest. Eventually, he came by after he heard us chopping and sawing at the half tree that had surrendered itself to us. We showed him a map. He wavered. Then he began to look at those tiny-rooted beasts as potential hazards.
Somewhere in the past few months, he figured his solution would be to take them all to the ground, and start fresh. Now we have a great big sky to look at, as well as the graffiti and rotted wood of the fence on the house directly behind us. That little whisper of wilderness that we had fallen in love with way back when we first bought the house was gone. Ironically, at that time, we had tried to connect with the man who owned the property before its current resident to discuss the care and maintenance of the vegetation that periodically encroached on our yard. That guy didn't want anyone or anything to fuss with his trees. He was expressly litigious about it, even taking the time to don a three-piece suit and dress his children in their Sunday best, coming all the way around the block to knock on our front door to present my wife with a letter stating the rights and limitations we had concerning all that wood. We were threatened with suits of a one-piece law kind if we attempted to prune or manage any of it.
And so, for years it grew. And now it's been cut down. My wife mourns the passing of those trees, as I do. We can look forward to a time when the redwoods and other sprouts assert themselves in that great wide open. My wife called it "Empty Sky." Later, after the sun went down and I looked out the kitchen window, I saw something I hadn't seen in all the years since we had lived there: stars. I showed them to my wife and told her that the sky wasn't so empty after all. It's just not so full of leaves anymore.