The Deadly Tattoo

May 9, 2011

Last Friday I mentioned a distant roar that woke me from a ten-minute snooze on Tuesday. I promised to share what aroused me, so here’s the postponed segment of I’m Back.

Continued from Tuesday, May 06:  When Ralphie started barking I knew what was happening and avoided looking out the window for a long time. I could hear the sounds of the horrid execution, the reverberation of jagged jaws coming from the driveway’s entrance, 600 feet from my house.

Since February, two healthy, sixty-foot redwoods (and two oaks), have worn the mark of death. After a massive blackout last year due to a felled tree on a transmission line, PG&E put out a contract on trees tall enough to repeat the same damages should they fall.

I don’t know where the blackout took place, but our earth’s ecology will be unbalanced without these remarkable organisms. At least, my little twenty-acre patch will be.

Joe had planted the redwoods from five-gallon pots and nurtured them into adulthood. Each stood proud on either side of the driveway as welcome symbols to our home. The dark evergreen branches provided ornamental beauty against summer’s dry pastures and winter’s bare silver maples lining the driveway. The redwoods increased our property’s real estate value. They added a sense of serenity to anyone who embraced the details of their majestic wholesomeness.

It’s our fault for planting them under utility lines. At the time, we were uneducated, amateur, DIY landscapers. Looking at the redwoods’ huge statue, it makes one wonder how we couldn’t foresee the future and possible damages. Buying the wrong tree is a common mistake. It’s like roasting your first turkey without knowing to look in the cavity for giblets.

The two oak trees hold a different story. Planted by a squirrel, human, or a fallen acorn the oaks were here long before we arrived. They’re still standing, one directly across the driveway entrance and the other a few feet north, both on the opposite side of the transmission lines. With the mark of death painted on each trunk, it won’t be long before they’re executed too.



  1. A sad tree story.


  2. Always hate to see mature trees have to be cut down.


  3. So well written. So moving. I am sorry for the loss of your trees.


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