The Dead Birch Society

June 6, 2016 at 2:04 pm (The Easy Chair)

Birch tree 1“I fuckin’ hate birches…” So said the man who came to cut down mine.

When we bought the house in 2001, the seller made some mention of birch borer disease. They said it might take a long time to kill the tree. (It did, about fifteen years.) The tree surgeon pointed down the street at neighboring houses. “They will all lose those trees if they don’t start treatment.” I’d spaced it out, and now my front yard buddy, a grand birch tree forty feet tall and shaped like the number “4”, had to come down. The city inspector said so, and an up-close look confirmed; it probably wouldn’t make it through another wind or ice storm.

Tree removal is expensive. I quizzed a neighbor who’d had one removed. $2,700. Bro-in-law asked around, his quotes ranged from $900-$1,600. I got on the phone, and with some smooth talking (and a shit-ton of good luck) the nice people at REACH Community Services offered to have it removed for me. The city inspector, a most patient fellow, gave us an extra month. Last Thursday, it was time to say goodbye to old number 4, Brett Favre…

"I'm a lumberjack, yes I am..."

“I’m a lumberjack, yes I am…”

Old Brett served us well, providing shade and view-blockage from the street. There was a large nest at the top. I’d assumed it was a crow’s, but the lumberjack said it was probably a squirrel’s, or mice.

He strapped on spikes, and slithered up the straight side of the number 4, two-thirds toward the top. A small chainsaw zipped through small branches, which dropped like brittle feathers. At the top, he toggled a rope around and tossed it to a young man down below. He pulled the spire toward the street as the airborn lumberjack sawed through. A rumble, a crack, a crash. The top third of the tree had landed in the middle of the street.

I had to get the second half on video. I grabbed my camera and ran to the street, and was greeted by this:

Not A Flying Squirrel

Not A Flying Squirrel

I felt kinda bad. Here King Rat was, asleep in his fine nest in a dee-luxe apartment in the sky, when all of a sudden his nest and everything falls forty feet, killing him. A Shakespearean tragedy, southeast Portland style.

Brett Favre, permanently retired

Brett Favre, permanently retired

I wish I could figure out how to upload the phone video to my computer. The second top-half of the tree shattered like an icicle in the street.

The Lumberjack was a friendly fellow. He told stories of snapping birches while he was 50 feet in the air, jumping from tree to tree to avoid a horrible fall. I asked about the rows of holes along the bark. It looked like someone had been shooting a .22 rifle at the tree. The Lumberjack laughed. “Nope, those holes were made by Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers.”

“You’re fuckin’ pulling my leg! Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers only exist on Gilligan’s Island!” He assured me otherwise. I was thrilled to pieces to add this oddball species to my list of neighborhood critters.

Birch tree 6Soon all that was left was the number 4. He whittled it down to table size, then after minimal discussion, we opted to have it taken down as low as possible. RIPieces, Brett.

It had to be done, but I miss my big, foreboding tree. The front yard looks so… so… welcoming! Arrgh! There’s nothing ominous to scare off the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

They killed Prince, you know.

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1 Comment

  1. FlapStappy said,

    I am trying to think of a pun for this post but I can’t seem to come up with anything, I’m stumped.
    *R.I.P. Squirrel*

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