Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Our Ibiza - Chapter 2: The Good, The Bad, And The Blue Spruce

When our contractor told us that he was ready to get started on our house, he wasn't kidding. In just a week a lot has happened, some of it exciting, some of it stressful, and some of it a little heartbreaking.
First, the lot had to be cleared. Of course I was looking forward to the house getting started, but I also knew that clearing the lot meant taking down an old, magnificent Blue Spruce tree. Here's a photo:

We tried to think of a bunch of ways to save this tree. We considered moving it to the back of the lot, but found that if it didn't take it could easily fall onto the neighbors. We tried to donate it to the local university to use in the landscaping on campus, but they also said it was too big and old to move and worried about it falling. We actually thought of taking it down and saving the wood and having our architect make some furniture out of it (his first love is building furniture, but it doesn't pay the rent), but he told us we would have to get it kiln dried which would mean spending thousands to get it transported and processed at the closest kiln, so we just couldn't do it. It's was over two stories high and probably at least 50 years old, but because of the proximity of it on the lot (and the fact it would be practically sitting on our front porch) we had to take it out. The neighbors were all disgusted with us, and one of them even walked down and (jokingly) told the excavation workers that they were going to hell for taking it down. I just hope there will still be a place in heaven for us since we planted four new trees at our old house.
Cutting down this tree brought back some sad memories I had from our historic home we owned five years ago. We had a big Box Elder tree on the parking strip of our almost 100 year old home. One day when Max was a newborn and one of my friends stopped by to visit, one of the branches broke off and fell just inches from her car. When we called the city to let them know, they decided to send out a specialist to check it out. He found that the tree was rotting and had to be cut down so the city wouldn't be liable for any more dropping branches. I stood on the porch with Max in the Baby Bjorn and watched them take it out when the day came, and I literally cried when they did it. Taking down a tree is the equivalent of killing any living thing in my book, and I hated to be a part of it. So, maybe I am a heartless tree killer, but like everything in life, the good comes with the bad. To lessen our guilt and to keep the neighbors from forming a lynch mob we have decided to buy and plant the biggest Blue Spruce we can afford at the back of our lot when we do the landscaping. Hope it works.
The exciting part of the process is seeing them start to dig out the basement of the house. We can finally see how the house will lay out on the lot and what our back yard will look like. Here's some more photos:

Jack at the lot before it was cleared. It used to be a garden and orchard for the neighboring house, so it had some fruit trees. We were able to keep the largest of them, a cherry. We had to take out an apricot and a plum, but they were on their last legs, so I am trying to tell myself I'm not such a terrible person.

The lot once it was cleared. Okay, maybe I am going to hell. Did I mention that we are building the most green, environmentally responsible house we can afford? Perhaps that will save us.

During the basement excavation. It's exciting to see what the house will look like, but stressful thinking that we are paying for these guys to be there. Hope they're not paid by the hour.


Kate Bailey said...

At least you feel guilty for clearing all those trees! Some people could care less. It really is hard to balance things and decide what is the "greenest" thing to do... I mean, is it better to buy organic food that is being shipped from Chile or to buy local, unorganic food? Is it better to clear a few trees and build an environmentally friendly home in their place with new trees in the backyard? Sometimes you've just got to do your best and hope it's good enough to get you into heaven. ;-)

Hannah totally has a onesie that says "little tree hugger" on it. It doesn't quite fit her yet, but if it did, I'd have her wear it when I bring her over. :)