Fallen tree becomes conversation piece

I’ve never had trouble starting conversations, so I really didn’t need to have that huge, 150-year-old maple tree to the west of the house fall July 3rd in order to have a conversation piece. But spark conversation it did.

Instead of “hello,” people began greeting me with, “I see you lost a tree the other night.”

After an extended period of non-activity toward removing the tree, their comments changed to, “When you gonna cut that thing up?” I wondered, too.

As a non-chainsaw owner, it’s something I needed to hire done. Those kinds of jobs usually go to my nephews, who have other farm-related priorities. They seemed to think the tree had fallen at a particularly discourteous time, during the height of hay baling season. Then my mom rudely had a tree fall across the road at her place, line jumping ahead of my yard-fallen maple. So my tree waited.

Anyone else’s downed tree wouldn’t have been such a big nosy deal to the rest of the world. But anyone else doesn’t live where I live: Straight north of Union City at the “T” intersection where what starts as Eight-Mile Road meets K Drive South. That house.

Mine is the house people have no choice but to look at when they come to a stop at the T, waiting to turn left or right on their way to Battle Creek or Marshall. Like it or not, people tend to keep tabs on my house and grounds. Just human nature.

And they aren’t shy about asking questions and making comments, as though my life were on public display. Why is my ladder still up, the storm windows off, the lawn not mowed? Do vehicle headlights blind my family?

Perhaps I should sell tickets.

“How come you play piano at weird times of the night?” I get asked. The pale pink walls of my parlor silhouette me sitting at my baby grand when it’s dark outside and the lights are on in that room.

“Do you wear green pajamas to bed?” one woman inquired. “My husband says he sees you when he goes to work at 4:30 AM.” It’s a good thing I don’t sleep in the nude, but I doubt he’d report that.

I can almost hear members of the garden club sitting in their vehicles at my intersection, lamenting the sad state of my flowerbeds.

I knew when it was time to take down my Christmas tree, thanks to a reminder from someone I’ll refer to here only as “Lee.” He and his mother were driving by from the west and noticed my tree was still up in February, so he let me know about it.

I grew more popular when my tree took the dive. A steady stream of mostly questionable-looking men with questionable motives stopped by in their pick-ups, seeking possession of my fallen maple.

I quickly learned “Would you like me to cut up that tree for you?” meant they wanted either an outrageous sum of money or to keep the wood for themselves. Some of the guys were pretty creepy. It looked like I was holding auditions for a re-make of Deliverance. One wanted to save my soul in addition to snatching up my wood. Bonus. Some behaved more aggressively than others.

“I want that tree,” one man demanded. I sent the kids back into the house so they wouldn’t hear the colorful conversation I knew needed ensue.

“But I heat with wood,” I replied.

“So do I,” he returned, which led me to say something that caused him to peel out as he left. I thought about spray-painting “MINE” across the tree’s trunk, but refrained. That would have been certifiable whacko behavior.

In only three months, thanks to independent work spurts from my nephews, my neighbor, Alan Seifke, my new husband (to whom I gave a chainsaw in August as a wedding gift) and my friend, Joe Roach, the tree is finally gone.

But you already knew that.

For the record, we’re not bothered by headlights, so you don’t have to dim them when approaching from the south. We’ve grown accustomed to life in the spotlight where the roads meet and the trees fall.

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