TL;DR. People move in, cut down a forest, and move on.
A shallow line of tall Douglas firs, fringed along the crest of a small hill, with the sky behind. That’s the view from our bathroom window.
Blacktop snakes up the hillside, past a large garage and through the firs, stopping at the double front doors of a massive west coast style home. I can’t see the house from my bathroom, but I’ve been up there, delivering misdirected mail, etc. So I know how the driveway ends.
We didn’t used to be able to see the driveway or garage from our place, or the sky behind the trees, the whole property was thickly forested.
But that changed two years ago, when the neighbours from hell moved in. Their middle school age children explored every inch of their new property on their dirt bikes and quads, all day long. Lucky kids. Unlucky neighbourhood.
Traffic on our narrow lane increased to the point where my DH started joking about the drug dealers down the road. It turned out they were running an illegal truck yard, with local landscapers, small jobbers and motorhome owners as their tenants.
Worst of all, they started cutting down the forest. The first time the chainsaws came out, I thought “Oh they are just getting a little light in, and maybe reducing the tree litter, they’ve got that big in-ground pool up there. Or maybe, sigh, building more dirt bike trails.” But as tree after tree came down, my unease grew.
On and on the felling went, week after week, a day here and a day there. Logging trucks showed up at least twice to cart loads of huge logs away, and the slash piles grew, keeping pace with the growing bald spot. They left Douglas Firs standing sentinel along the hill crest as if to screen their activities. These people literally paved paradise, to put up a parking lot.
(thanks Joni, it’s a great line.)
Then they torched the slash. Prudence wasn’t one of this family’s strong points either, and they simply lit the piles where they sat. The flames shot fifty feet into the air, and someone in the neighbourhood (not us!) called the fire department. The two big fire trucks took up our whole road, and it was a bit exciting around here while they put out the fires.
After the first few months, the kids stopped with the dirt bike noise. Thank goodness. I don’t know if another neighbour talked to them or whether they just grew bored of that game.
The second year they were here, they took out a bunch more trees, and built the slash piles too high, and yep, you guessed it, that story ended with big red fire trucks too.
Then this spring, in the space of a couple months, they sold and moved on.
Some very unobtrusive new neighbours moved in, and I don’t need to practice my patience with the neighbours any more.
The dawn this morning was beautiful out my bathroom window, all peachy orange fading to golden yellow sky, spiked by silent black trees. A few of them are dying now, I assume from shock, and day by day I watch them shift into their new reality as favourite raven perches, for a while at least, before they shift again and lay down for a long sleep.
And I think about these people who lived here for such a short time, and the lasting mark they made. A mark that will take a hundred years to erase.
It’s quite something, isn’t it.