We went on vacation. We came home to find our neighbors had cut down two mature maple trees on our property line.
We sued them in small claims court. AND WE WON!
"Hope this doesn't ruin your day," the text message began.
Spoiler alert: It did, in fact, ruin my day.
The text was from a neighbor, and she also sent a photo that showed the utter destruction of two mature maple trees that formed the boundary between our back yard and our next door neighbor's. For a moment I couldn't even comprehend what the photo showed: I saw our vintage metal chairs, and our campfire ring, and my woodland shade garden, but everything else looked like a war zone. Ten-foot sections of trees were jumbled around, and dust and dirt filled the scene.
As I started to wrap my mind around what I was seeing, I became physically sick. I was barely able to eat or sleep; I lost five pounds in four days.
A peaceful place
The two large maple trees that formed our property line were more than just trees. They provided privacy and shade, essentially creating another room in our home.
Especially during COVID, the trees provided a welcome respite from the pressures of the outside world. They created a quiet, almost magical space where we could relax and appreciate the beauty of nature.
A gathering place
We had campfires with friends and family.
We raked leaves and roasted hot dogs with our kids.
Woodland shade garden
About five years ago I started a woodland wildflower garden in the shade below the maple trees. I bought round stones and created a curving border and added compost. Over the years I established jack-in-the-pulpit, Solomon's seal, and blue violets, among others.
'Just get along'
Disputes about boundary trees always involve neighbors, so after a crime like this there's intense pressure to "just get along." No one wants to live in a hateful or resentful environment. I certainly don't want to add more negativity to a world that's already reeling from bad news.
But here's the thing: We didn't do anything wrong. We weren't even HOME when this happened. Our neighbors destroyed our property, on purpose, while we were on vacation, so they could build a three-car garage.
So we won't get over it, and we won't get along.
Want to share your own tree eulogy?
If you're feeling as sad and powerless as I am, get in touch.
Let's talk about how we can work together to save urban trees!