Monday, August 16, 2010

The last tree standing

The good news: I didn't get arrested. The bad news: I nearly got myself plowed down along with the lot of trees next to my home.

I am not particularly proud of my antics the last 48 hours, but I couldn't just twiddle my thumbs and watch helplessly as every tree, bush and weed were casually mowed over to make room for mankind's latest and greatest residential monstrosity.

It's a nauseating mess, the street I call home these days. From dawn to dusk, the floorboards of my Gainesville domicile shake and the windows shimmy. It's for the greater good, I am told. People want to build new homes and make a life for themselves as my own dear family wants to do. And I understand, really I do.

But when I'm trying to teach my teen aged homeschooler the importance of respecting Mother Earth and the gifts she has to offer, the wretched wailing of an old chainsaw and simultaneous revving of a bulldozer sets me off on a tear (as in I want to tear someone apart) and that's not good when you're a practicing yogini.

"I've got to say something," I told my son through gritted teeth (and forgetting all the patience I have learned through my daily yoga practice). He sat stoically in the front seat of the car hoping (no, probably praying) I would, for once, keep my big mouth shut. I do this a lot these days - embarrass him. I really don't mean to. I am just a passionate person and well, sometimes the passion gets the best of me.

And that is what happened day before yesterday. I threw the car in park and told my son to stay put. My flip flopped self nearly toppled face first into the dirt as I flagged down one of two gentleman mowing down the lot next to my house. The first worker (we'll call him Tractor Man), was kind and gentle and called me "ma'am." He said he wasn't working with the other guy. The grouchy looking guy on the bulldozer, that is. A guy I've seen many times before and one who sometimes likes to play a strange game of bulldozer 'chicken' with me when I'm coming or going in my own vehicle.

As soon as Bulldozer Man saw me he jumped from his machine in one giant leap. Kind of like hopping off a strange yellow, metal horse. This modern day cowboy stood at my side within seconds and scowled.

"I know you're just doing your job," I said, trying not to blurt out something mean in my anger. "But please, there are a couple of Live Oaks straddling the property line of my house...Are you taking those out? Or can they be spared?"

He wouldn't make eye contact. Bulldozer Man just pointed toward my backyard. "Them, there? I'll leave a bit and THEY'LL decide what THEY want."

I nodded and thanked him for whatever he could do. I hoped Bulldozer Man could find some kindness in his heart like the other guy. The one on the tractor. And I made a silent wish that whoever THEY were, THEY liked shade trees, too. I turned and left.

As soon as I buckled myself back in the car I started to sniffle. I felt like such an idiot. I knew nothing would be left when I returned home. I'd read the building permits and checked the codes. These people followed the rules and did their job as best they could. Still, I secretly crossed my fingers in hopes that my plea was heard.

Two hours later they were gone. The trees, that is. All, but one. My favorite. The great Oak under which my husband and I set up a blow-up baby pool mere weeks ago, in order to escape the stifling heat of summer, stood unscathed.

I'd like to believe Bulldozer Man heard my plea and respected my words. Maybe he realized we need to stop playing 'chicken' and remember we're all in this game called 'Life' together. Maybe he figured we each have personal battles and demons to face every day. And maybe he even thought that sometimes we need to make concessions for crazy women in flip flops who plead for the lives of trees. Or maybe the tree really is just on our lot.

As an eternal optimist, I am going to choose to believe Bulldozer Man and I made a peaceful pact and that maybe, just maybe, our mutual respect made a difference in each other's lives (even for a brief moment).