The People And Trees Around Us

wpid-12683859.jpg

The people and trees around us seem to share some things in common. Both are around us yet we know very little about the actual life they have lived. We observe them both grow and age. Trees and people carry on with their life whether we are their to share it or if we have missed out. I know that sounds pretty deep but it is also a really simple truth when one sits down for the comparison. Well then, what’s my point? We will get to that or maybe you might even see what it is by the time I am done here. But let’s start with the tree that has fallen a few months ago out at the far edge of what I mow as part of my yard. Call me lazy but I just haven’t reaaly felt like dealing with this fallen tree because of the work I knew I would be having to do with it. However, as spring is now in full effect where I live in southeast Texas, I know I only have a few more weeks before it is very hot and swampy outside. It won’t be too much longer and we will be flirting with triple digits. Due to the heat I try to accomplish major things outside in our very short cool weather months. So, as I mowed my grass with my brand spanking new John Deere riding mower (the replacement), I drove by this tree which reminded me that there was work to be done. Or,leave it and let the other trees and vines consume it. But I don’t want this to look unkept, a personal choice, so I made the plans to handle it yesterday, Monday, since I have found it is better to plan things into my empty days instead of just throwing caution to the wind. After mowing I made sure my chainsaw was sharpened, my tractor was fueled up, and the burn pile had been knocked down, all in preparation for Monday’s task. I also went ahead and loaded the tractor onto the trailer already connected to my truck so there wouldn’t need to be so much back and forth walking on my part. Sadly, I know this dress all too well with all the old and majestic trees on the property.

Just before first light, just before the first glimpse that day is breaking, before the buttcrack of dawn, I was at the tree unloading my tractor from the trailer. I rearranged the small generator in the back of my truck so it was back on the runner mat, if not it vibrates allover the damn place. I plugged in my 80’s boom box and pushed play. Great news, we will be listening to Ozzy this morning. I cranked it up to max volume so I can hear it over the chainsaw. I am sure Mr. Crowley sounds pretty eerie creeping through the dense trees this early in the morning. Hot damn, chainsaw lit off on the first crank, time to let the wood chips fly! After about about an hour of cutting I begin to feel the warmth of the sun on the backs of my legs so I known I need to get moving so I can get it done. My son, riding the golf cart, came down to tell me he was off to catch the bus. He was a little upset he wasn’t helping me but was very understanding I think. Off he went, back to the house to get his bag so he could go catch his bus. Thankfully he brought down my big plastic mug that I left on the kitchen island, I was dreading having to break momentum to go back to the house. After a few hours I had a garbage pile and the wood I will keep for my outdoor fire pit. Oak is a great wood for these fire pits. I put a little effort into cutting the wood into very manageable pieces. I will split it in a few weeks to let it dry out more. First I need to fix my frankensplitter because it has a nasty hydraulic leak somewhere. Being done cutting, I hooked the chains to the bucket of the tractor so I can drag the bigger branches to the burn pile. Afterwards I loaded all the cut wood I was keeping onto the trailer. Tired now, and its only just shy of noon, I decide to leave everything where it is to go get a bite to eat up at the house. The hard work is done now so there isn’t actually much to do except clean up. I won’t lie, after making myself a toasted smoked turkey sandwich I did end up taking a short nap out on the deck while enjoy the slight breeze. But, nonetheless, I needed to finish. Before heading back down I loaded the crock pot up with chicken and spread the cheesy sauce on it and turned it on, dinner at 6 or so is my guess. Easy peasy done. I walked back down to my truck, loaded up, and the parked it back up alongside my shop. I will unload later, maybe even the next day (being today and it isn’t done yet).

While I waited for everyone to start trickling in from their day I took an ride down to get the mail. Bill, bill, advertising, sale, and something strange with no return address. I hopped back in the cart and headed back to the house. I opened the strange letter first. I skipped to the end to see who it was from, I know, bad habit. After realizing I didn’t know the person I started from the top. It started with a short explanation of how we don’t actually know each other but she knew me because of her mother and because she saw me in 2009 when I met my biological siblings for the first time in South Dakota. Technically she is my niece that I didn’t know I had until reading the letter. Her letter bears bad news, it seems that my biological grandmother has passed, someone I never met, and I am being informed that I was mentioned in the reading of her will. She will not disclose to what degree nor why, but told me to be expecting a package which contained some items belonging to my biological father. Items she had wanted to give me in person but it never happened. My biological father also died before I met him. In fact he had died before I never knew of him. Then the letter was signed with “Love, Gracie”. End of letter. Sadly, I never met the mother of my biological father, but I am sure she lived a very full life.

Which is where we get back to how trees and people share a similar path in life, both go on whether we are there to witness it or not. Both come and go in and out of existence and the is little we can do about it. There are many people I have not met and may never meet on that biological side of my family. Until 7 years ago the ones that have met me never knew I existed and when I dropped in on their lives I am sure it was as shocking as an old oak tree crashing into the living room because of a bad storm. And then in a crash of thunder, all of our lives changed. We questioned most of what we knew, and we embraced the changes that were coming whether we wanted them or not. I will wait for my package, impatient of course, because that is the way I get sometimes. So, this is where it ends today, with me waiting for my mystery package.

The Death Of A Giant

I was always taught that all things are born and the destined to die. I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life where the death of something made me overly sad. I have had to question but only one death in my life and that was my fathers’. As I found out late yesterday afternoon when arriving home after picking my son up from a friends is I should have cut a certain old giant down many years ago. I could never bring myself to cutting it down tho, it has grown, thrived, and survived in that very spot for who knows how long. It has weathered countless storms and the severity of the weather here in southeast Texas. Sure, it had seen better days and wasn’t exactly the straightest tree, but for all I knew it was a healthy strong tree. I have no idea what kind of tree it is or why it fell. I just know it fell because it was it’s time to fall. Unfortunately I can’t leave this old tree where it fell since it fell onto my driveway and has made it somewhat impassable. So, after a 10 hour day at work I get to go back to work. I know, I could be like most people and just call someone to come take care of it for me, but that isn’t how I’m wired. My neighbors would have called someone and paid them dearly for a tree removal service. Or, in a worse case scenario, they would just call me. So, I have to call “me” to get my ass in gear and get this tree out of the front yard. Of course, my son is very excited, there will be chainsaws and a tractor fired up very soon, he has a very excited look on his face.
 
After looking at what I needed to do we set of for the shop to get the chainsaws and the tractor. After getting everything gassed up we loaded it all in the bucket of the tractor and then went inside to change clothes. I began walking and told my son to meet me out front with the tractor. I was thinking to myself I am glad he likes to do the kinds of things I like to do. Many kids would have been happy to be left alone to waste their time sitting on the couch melting their brains in front of the television. When we made it to the tree I realized we forgot one very important piece of equipment, the chain. We must have chain. I sent him back to the shop to fetch it and I began my initial cuts. When he returned we hooked up the base and finished yanking it out of the ground. Good thing it was rotten or we could have been there a while, but it snapped right out of the ground. It took us a couple of hours to get everything cut up, loaded up, and moved to the back of the property. We made a very nice pile and I was convinced to go ahead and burn it. After putting everything away and cleaning up a bit we went out to the pile to set it on fire. By now it is well after dark and it would seem to me it is going to be a very late night for myself since I have to have it burned out before I can walk away. Either that or get my tractor back out and bury it altogether. That just creates double work, we will let it burn.
 
A flick of the Zippo to the tinder and newspapers and we were burning. It took a bit for the green wood to get going but then we had a very hot fire. Standing there I found myself whispering, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust………………………….ah fuck it burn bitch burn”. My son turned to me and said that was a funny little prayer. Except I wasn’t praying and he knows it which is why he made his version of a joke. I sent him in to go get in bed about midnight since most of the fire had burned out but it was still going strong enough to warrant me staying up a while longer. My wife showed up. I watched her slinking across the yard from the deck where she had been watching me. She showed up bearing gifts for me, a new pack of cigarettes and a giant mug of ice water. She also had my medicine in her hand and insisted I take it since it was so late. She always is thinking about my health. Or, she doesn’t want me to keel over anytime soon. Either or I suppose. She hung out for a little while, sitting next to me in the lawn chairs, holding my hand, almost as like she had something to say but never did. Soon enough she wandered back to the house, leaving me alone with the fire once more. I enjoy watching the fire when I am burning branches and debris. I had to explain to my son once that I don’t like sending things mother nature has provided to the landfill. It will all rot away one day but in such a disgrace. Whereas when I burn it I return it back to the soil and back to nature. I know, sounds silly. I let that fire burn out completely down until there were only embers barely glowing. I went ahead and shoveled on some dirt to snuff it out for the night. Then I headed in to the house because I was stinking real bad and wanted to grab a shower before heading to bed. I stopped in the kitchen to put my mug in the sink and there was a plate with my dinner sitting on the counter. There was a small note which read, “I figured you were hungry. Please rinse your plate when you are finished. Please take a shower. Wake me up when you crawl into bed if you want to, I won’t mind”. I ate, I rinsed my plate, I showered, and I crawled into bed. I didn’t disturb her since I knew we would both be up in a few short hours. I realized for the one millionth time that there isn’t jackshit on the television at three in the morning so I had a good excuse to close my eyes.

A Mess In A Mess Caused A Mess

This past Sunday I was down at the creek behind my house wandering around to see what I was up against. I have spent the last few summers clearing the area behind my property because it seems that it is a choke point where all the junk from up the creek ends up. There is one area that is so narrow that in the heat of the summer one can almost walk across it without getting their shoes wet. This seems to be a favored spot for all things in the creek to just give up and stop. It doesn’t seem to help when an old tree falls in a recent thunderstorm and chokes it off completely. Which is what I found. In the beginning I was kind of happy it fell from across the creek and not from my actual property and then reality set in and I realized this was going to make it harder to pull out and cut up since the base of the tree was on the other bank. As you can see it has already created a blockage and once it starts it takes a fair amount of time to get it all hauled out. After assessing the mess I went back up to my shop to get my tractor, a chain, a chainsaw, and my son. After getting everything together my son and I roll down to the creek in the tractor. He is getting at driving the Beast. He backed it into position, although I wasn’t real happy with the angle of decent, so I had him pull out and reposition so it would be safer. The overall plan was to drag the tree across the creek so I could cut it up. Then load everything into the bucket of the tractor and take it to the burn pile. So far so good, we are ready to start the yank across the creek with my son at the wheel of the Beast. The whole operation took about four hours of solid work for my son and I. After we loaded the last load of wood into the bucket I told my son to go dump it into the pit and then go hose down the Beast.
 
After all the work was done my neighbor comes down to see what all the noise and commotion was all about. Perfect timing since we are done now. After telling him what we had been up to for the last few hours he asked if I had a little time to talk. Sure, why not. y’all might remember my neighbor Charles from other posts I have written talking about my very Christian neighbor. If not, y’all will need to go back and review. For those who remember, good for you, we can continue. Charles wanted to inform me of changes I would be seeing next door as well as ask me for some needed assistance. So, I bite, he has me curious. He went on to explain that he will be moving out within the next day or so and probably won’t be back. My curious side took over and asked him what was going on and where are they going in such a rush. He stopped me right there, they were not all going to be leaving, just him. Charles went on to explain that they are having difficult times in their marriage and as a result he was told to leave and that she wants an immediate divorce. He said he has been stying in a hotel for the last week or so because she won’t talk to him any further. Anyway, she gave him permission to come home and pick his belongings up which she packed and set in the garage. Her and their three teenage daughters were out running errands at the time and she felt this was the best time for him to come since the girls are unaware of the pending divorce. So, he loaded his Escalade up with his boxes and when he was getting ready to leave he heard us back here and headed down to see what was going on hoping it was me since he had a favor to ask me which he laid out next. He wants me to look after his property, mowing and such in his absence because he knows the house will be going up for sale soon since she will not be afford to live there without his income. I never knew his bride didn’t work. However, they are not definite in any plans, but he does know she has spoken to a lawyer already. To say the least, I wanted to know what happened so I bit the bullet and asked Charles if he would mind telling me what had happened to set her off into instantly wanting a divorce. Hell, what do I know, this could have been coming for years. My knowledge of them is what I see across the fence and what he tells me in the past, which hasn’t been much come to find out.

At first he was reluctant to really go into any details. After a deep sigh Charles explains to me that he would rather I heard it all from him rather than through the grapevine. He reminds me that he has been married for 18 years to his wife. Together they have three daughters, 7, 13, and 17. However, about 6 years ago he found that their marriage was in a slump because he was no longer interested in his wife sexually. So, completely by accident, at a church function, he met someone who really understood him and his sexual desires. At first it was all about the sex, this person brought out everything his wife wasn’t able to. I thought this strange to be telling me, but okay. Charles went on to explain that this relationship is still in full swing which is why he is in the doghouse with his wife. Recently, a few weeks ago, she began to suspect that he may be cheating on her. So, she began asking him subtle questions. Behind his back she was looking through texts on his phone, phone records, and people he was associated with. Quite by accident, he says, she found out the truth and was not happy with any of it. He knew the day would come and never knew exactly how she would handle any of it but didn’t think she would be acting this extreme. But, as he found out, she believes the relationship has crushed their marriage with the lies, the sneaking, and the deceit. In the end, he doesn’t blame her for the anger she feels towards him and understands that she is really pissed. Just when we were about to wrap up the conversation he tells me it is time for him to go and he has someone waiting in the car on him. Fair enough, I will do what I can, when I can, with your yard and stuff. About that time a man comes down the trail, he sees us talking, and proceeds to approach us. He asked Charles if he was ready to get going since they had some stuff to pick up before it gets to late. He introduced himself to me as Robert. After he shook my hand he reached down to hold Charles’ hand. Charles paused and told Robert that he was just explaining their relationship to me so I would have an idea of what was going on. In my head I am thinking…………did I miss something? Hand in hand the went back up the trail and disappeared into the trees. Ummm, what in the hell just happened?

Later in the evening my wife went next door to talk with Beth to see if she needed anything. My wife being herself, she took a bottle of chilled wine and some snacks, hoping she would talk to her, woman to woman. It didn’t take long and they began to talk some. Beth explained that they will be putting their house up for sale very soon due to some very unforeseen changes in their current marital status. After some talking for a while my wife said Beth kinda broke down, she could see the tears in her eyes and told Beth that she could talk to her if she wanted to, no worries. Since her daughters were all upstairs getting ready for bed Beth told my wife that she is heartbroken with everything that has been going on with her husband. She is angry with her husband for what he has done to her, their family, and to their marriage. Then she dropped in my wife’s lap with how upset that she is that Charles has been having sex with this man and then coming home and having sex with her for quite a long time. Beth said that she thought their marriage was going pretty good for sometime now and then she started noticing changes in him that she didn’t understand fully. He was asking her to do things sexually that have never been talked about between them ever before and out of the blue here they were. She didn’t go into any kind of detail with my wife except that she thinks back and can remember when the things sexually in their relationship began to change but thought that the counseling they were in had given new insight to trying new things in the bedroom. Overall, she feels let down by Charles because they have been living such a big lie. She got to the point where he had to move out because she could not stand to look at him. She has forbidden him to speak to their daughters about why they are now separated. They think he is out of town on business but that won’t last forever. Beth doesn’t want her girls to know that their dad is choosing life with another man over her. After they exchanged their goodbyes and condolences, my wife headed home. I am sure there is some things she isn’t telling me, small details of sorts. My wife is kinda upset with Charles. She told me that never in a million years did she expect to find out that our neighbors would be splitting up because he has a boyfriend who he is choosing to be with over his wife and daughters.

My wife asked what I thought about all of this going on. Well, it’s actually none of my business and I am just as surprised as everyone else. Well, not as surprised as Beth I am sure. This all got me thinking a bit, knowing now for sure that their house will be going up for sale. I need to look into that pretty good because if the price is right I would like to buy it. Why? It’s simple, I would rent it. What better way to pick your neighbors than to own the house they live in. Plus, it’s on a good plot of property, right around 4 acres. I could use a little extra land in the back of mine down by the creek. Who knows, I suppose I should run this by my wife. She might not see all of this as an opportunity.When we bought our property we did try to buy that lot but were told somebody had already put money down on it. I did, however, buy both lots to the left of me. I didn’t want my neighbors and their lives into mine without them putting forth a little effort to get to me. I don’t know what to say about Charles. I guess, good for him finding what he was looking for in a relationship. On the other side I feel bad for his wife and family since his actions will ultimately change their lives as well. Proves to say that one never knows their neighbors as well as we think we do. I am just glad it was an affair and not something like they were running a prostitution sex ring out of their house or them having a meth lab or something where the law had to get involved. Domestic issues get messy but in the end nobody has gone to jail for doing anything stupid yet.