We've enjoyed the sound of rain, and occasional thunder, this week from inside our now-cozy home. My husband keeps going outside to watch the rain pelt our lovely new roof. We go together to the side of the house to listen to the lovely gurgle of the flowing stream of water through our pristine drainpipes. A delightful listening experience indeed.
I've also spent some time out in the rain this week. And I have a question: Am I one of the remaining few people who like to use an umbrella? I have been out several hours to photograph "rain" pictures but visiting store parking lots in Danville and Alamo it seemed that not many people used umbrellas. Most seemed to hunker down inside their jackets and run for it. Very impressible, hardy folks, but not quite as pretty a picture.
Then there was the morning I went to photograph the trees coming down at the Veterans Hall. A steady drizzle was coming down. I, too, decided to hunker and wore my daughter's old snowboarding jacket. This worked fine and kept me warm and dry. But! The camera needed covering. So I returned to the car to get my umbrella - a lovely one, I might mention, in the design of Van Gogh's Starry Night masterpiece - and went back to memorialize the event, balancing the umbrella over myself and my camera.
Now that was a rather sad sight, those trees coming down. I'm not against removing any and all trees. I once was, but then our neighbors' trees down the hill behind us start to grow, grow, grow until we could no longer see the foothills of Mount Diablo. Could we possibly trim your trees? we asked. What trees? they asked. They'd been planted so longer ago at the rear of their large lot that they weren't even aware of them and didn't care about them or care for them. But they were in our faces daily.
Next door to them, directly behind us, the neighbors have a row of eucalyptus trees almost on the property line we share. These trees are now massive. While they're a lovely backdrop to our house, I do worry about them falling on our house during a storm or in hot spells when they get dry. My concern increased after hearing that eucalyptus are sometimes referred to as "widow makers." Yikes! Hope one of ours don't make a widow - or a widower. We did go ahead and have them trimmed once ourselves - several big branches overhanging our yard. Others have fallen through the years but luckily not on top of anyone.
Anyway back to the Vets Hall trees. That lot wasn't the right size for those big redwood trees although I'm sure they were perfect for many years. Once the determination was made that that building at that site had to accommodate both the veterans and the senior programs, it was inevitable that the lot would have to be used to its maximum potential. The larger building would interfere with the tree roots, and vice versa. Plus three of the trees already had root damage.
I'm surprised there wasn't more of a movement to preserve the 1925 Veterans Memorial Building as is and move the senior programs elsewhere, to the Community Center by the library for instance. But the consensus was that these programs should continue in the middle of town. The town held 12 meetings on the subject but very few people raised objections. And the new facility will be beautiful and functional, no doubt.
But it was sad to see those trees come down. They've been part of the site for as long as I remember. With what hopes were they planted as sentinels around the venerable old building? How many years did they shade people from the searing heat on the Fourth of July or during street fairs? More recently they've provided protection for the Blue Star Moms as they collect goodies for care packages for the troops. Think of what they have witnessed for decades, from veterans coming and going to their building for meetings to the business and social activities on Hartz and Prospect.
It was fascinating to see the arborists as work, their agility as they climbed the trunks to cut and drop down the branches. They ignored the rain and efficiently made short work of those redwoods and cedars. So many years growing, the trees were removed in only a few hours time, the air fragrant with a scent of the woods, and sawdust occasionally mingling with the raindrops.
Ironically on Monday, the day before work began on the Vets Hall, the tree on the corner across the street, by Starbucks, keeled over. Maybe just as well he didn't live to see his friends be removed. OK, perhaps I'm anthropomorphizing a bit here. Too many Disney movies.