Why Do Trees Hate Me?

Treezilla248I was looking forward to Father’s Day. I’m caught up on my weekly art assignments and planned on doing a little weed pulling and general dirt therapy in the garden. Alas, my best laid plans always seem to go sideways, sometimes spectacularly.

It started around midnight. I was lying in bed watching Saturday Night Live reruns when I heard a thunderous crash outside. I immediately jumped up and made a hasty survey of the property. The house and garage were intact, and there didn’t seem to be any activity from the neighbors. I figured the noise must have come from out on the freeway, maybe a tree jumped out in front of a drunk driver or something. There are always weird sounds coming from that direction.

At any rate, it didn’t have anything to do with me, so I went back to bed and forgot about it.

Come morning I made a more thorough investigation and, to my horror, discovered that one trunk of a massive cottonwood tree that borders Wolf Creek had indeed given up it’s skyward quest and landed on the embankment, taking out several laurel trees, my blackberry patch, a few of my prized ferns and two-thirds of the lattice I had so lovingly constructed in years past.

It’s become a regular event here in Crabb Hollow. Several years ago, during that pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm, half of the maple tree in the front yard gave way taking out a third of the dogwood tree and a fence. The same storm also brought down several of my neighbor’s liquidambers onto my roof, causing about a thousand buckaroos to fix and leaving me with a slash pile that took the rest of the winter to clean up. I convinced the neighbor to remove the remaining trees, which had been planted thirty years ago to placate my father when said neighbor built a monstrous apartment building ten feet away from our humble home. He groused a bit, mostly because he had been ordered to plant the damn things in the first place and then required to pay the city’s tree removal tax to take them out. (We’re from the government and we’re here to help!)

So after all that I figured I was fairly safe. The leaning cottonwood seemed strong enough to outlive me, even if it did drop the occasional widowmaker. (Took out my grape arbor last year.) And besides, it’s expensive to remove the things. The neighbor paid something like $5K to have his trimmed back with a cherry picker.

So now I’m faced with another massive clean up job. Probably a few hundred trips to the dump to get it off my property. I fear trees now, like the Japanese fear Godzilla. The ominous thumping in the night as the monster approaches, crushing everything in its path. It makes me want to cut down everything over ten feet tall. Or maybe move to the desert.

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40 Responses to Why Do Trees Hate Me?

  1. Chris Peterson says:

    But ya’ still gotta’ count your blessings.

    27 years ago, when Darcy was only a few months old and we were still living in Nevada City, there was a snow storm followed be a wind storm. The snow took out a small cedar tree about 20′ from the house, and it landed on the roof, with a 12″ diameter branch impaling Darcy’s crib. Luckily, she was sleeping in the bed with us.

    That woke us all up, so we sat for a while in the front room listening to the growing wind howl outside. Suddenly, we heard a horrendous crashing noise, and we huddled together in the corner of the house at one end of the couch. The power went out and there was that eerie calm that always follows. I ran and got a flashlight, and when I went to look out the window next to where we were sitting, I couldn’t see a thing.

    A tree, which laying down, was taller than the window, blocked my view. I threw on a pair of boots and went outside for a gander. There, I saw that a giant ponderosa pine, about six feet in diameter, had fallen right down the side of the house we had been sitting on, missing the three of us by about a foot. Shivers all around!

    So yeah, I certainly understand your frustration, but then again…

  2. TD Pittsford says:

    Well Bob, that’s two. Tree strikes and you’re out! I hear those living in the Mojave Desert don’t have that kind of problem. (There are JACKALOPES too, Bob!)

  3. Michael Anderson says:


    Trees are full of hatred. That is why we must cut them down. Or at the very least, create a becalmed forest as was done by the ancient people. You are right-on about widow makers, and there are tons of them (literally) throughout Nevada County.

    I know we have a lot of issues on our municipal plate, but I think tree well-being (and forest health) continues to be neglected. We need to do a better job of managing these commons.

    Not that any of this would have helped in your situation. I wonder if the recent freeway work made your willow weep? (Or cottonwood, as it were.)


    • rl crabb says:

      Cottonwoods suffer from illusions of grandeur. They aspire to be the tallest tree in the stand, but they’re competing with Ponderosas and the occasional Sequoia. Those trees are fairly robust, whereas the Cottonwood is too wimpy to maintain those lofty heights. Plus they have the additional burden of supporting the parasitic ivy that clings to them like a desperate lover. Such scenarios can only end badly.

    • Greg Goodknight says:

      Mike, the tree hater. Figures.

  4. SR Jones says:

    For pity’s sake, Bob, where’s your chainsaw?

  5. George Rebane says:

    Bob, having lived through similar experiences over the last 35 years, and cringing in fear of more to come, I sympathize with your latest tree encounter. I do agree that they are out to get us, and join with MichaelA in his prescriptions. To the list of trees as living creatures attempting to eradicate Man, I add ropes. As sailors learned centuries ago, parcel trust carefully to anything that can resemble a rope – at best they will embarrass you, at worst, kill you (and I am a knot nut).

  6. Judith Lowry says:

    A man’s home is his hassle!

  7. Steve Enos says:

    After many, many years in the woods with the USFS and CalFire… it’s “Tree Karma”.

  8. Greg Goodknight says:

    Bob, those trees love you and have only fallen to Earth to be closer to you.

    It’s natural for them to be where they are now. Let nature take it’s course, in a few centuries no one will even be able to tell the difference.

    • Michael Anderson says:

      Greg, the tree hugger. Who woulda thunk it! (-;

      • Chris Peterson says:

        I believe him. Afterall, he is not now, nor has he ever been, a member of the republican party. (He just dislikes one side way more than the other; that’s all.)

        • Greg Goodknight says:

          To quote one of the creators of South Park, ‘toonist Matt Stone, “I hate conservatives but I really fucking hate liberals.”.

          Brilliant show.

        • Greg Goodknight says:

          No comment? No worries.

          The other South Park creator, Trey Parker, is an unabashed Libertarian. Two peas in a pod.

          Currently, ‘conservatives’ are less hostile to libertarians than the progressives that currently call the Democratic Party home, and my hope is that a more Jeffersonian liberalism will someday return to the Democratic Party and I’ll be able to again register Dem, but I’m not holding my breath.

          • Chris Peterson says:

            You get no argument on any of that. I was just funnin’ with ya’, but you couldn’t have explained it better. With the exception of his opposition to Hamilton’s banking system, which put this nation on the path to affluence, Jefferson was the man.

          • Greg Goodknight says:

            “I was just funnin’ with ya’”

            Only one of us was having fun.

          • rl crabb says:

            You really need to lighten up, Greg.

          • Greg Goodknight says:

            RL, sorry but I don’t easily do “lighten up” after getting a couple of gratuitous and unfriendly digs in the 3rd person sent my way.

            CP’s 6AM was heartening. Nice to find a fellow Jefferson admirer even if it was drawn out by an intimation that my honesty regarding my political views was suspect.

            Just to make it clear, Matt Stone’s words are his, not mine (and he has made a lot of cash exaggerating his positions) but I thought it might be instructive for all to read them to get an inkling . I don’t hate any groups of people, no matter what their shared delusion might be.

  9. Our trees appear to be at war with our neighbors’ trees. One of ours on the property line keeled over about 5 years ago. Fortunately, it landed against a much bigger tree next door.

    But our neighbors’ trees got their revenge two winters ago, when a pine came right down our driveway. The landing was perfect; no damage anyplace. But we couldn’t drive anywhere until the tree jockeys did their thing.

    There are times when these things can work in your favor. About 10 years ago, an NID tree crashed into a rental house we owned on Banner Mountain, completely destroying the back half of the house. (Fortunately, the property was between tenants at the time.) The insurance company declared it a total loss and paid up.

    But the front part of the house was perfectly fine, so we rebuilt the rear and sold it for a nice profit. I believe this is an example of making lemonade out of a lemon.

  10. Not to worry, Michael. The rebuild exceeded code requirements, and easily passed all inspections. The buyers were fully informed of the house’s history before we made the deal. I am a capitalist, but not a rapacious capitalist.

    I saw them recently at Trader Joe’s in Roseville (talk about spending your money down the hill!) and they told me how much they enjoy the house and the neighborhood. But they did express concern about a couple of those NID trees.

  11. TD Pittsford says:

    I am amazed at how fast contributors to this BLOG can get off topic. It’s hilarious…when it’s not annoying.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      If no one ever got off topic, we would have been discussing the same thing for thousands of years. I find the people who do that much more annoying.

  12. There you go, TD, changing the topic.

    Ah, what was the topic?

  13. Greg Goodknight says:

    Here’s a real change of topic… Pixar’s Monsters University starts today. Fun movie, nicely done. Ending surprised me when I saw it a few weeks ago at Pixar (a stepson of mine has a screen credit as a supporting computer geek) and if you liked Monsters, Inc, you’ll like the prequel.

    I think playing with it in release will be a short, “The Blue Umbrella” which is a cute and entertaining little romantic comedy short which, like many cute little Pixar shorts, is a technology demo. The renderings of that animation are, especially at the beginning, near photographic quality. Stunning.

  14. Goodknight loves to take shots at other people, but he gets offended when they fire back. If you can’t stand the heat, etc.

  15. Greg Goodknight says:

    If I couldn’t stand the heat I wouldn’t still be around. Fire back, but if a hit isn’t based on reality, I will hit back harder.

    Boardman, Jones, love the 3rd person cheap shots. Was it fun?

    Lighten up, indeed.

    • Ken Jones says:

      Incessant whining and immature comments on most blogs where you post Greg. When called out or others drop to your level you cry “libel”. Enjoy the heat in the opinion kitchen, it is well deserved.

  16. Greg Goodknight says:

    The times I have claimed libel were both false and defamatory. Please, a link to one you think wasn’t.

    Just another cheap shot from you, Jones, but thanks for moving from third person subjective to singular second person, if my grammar isn’t off kilter.

    Just to recap, I made a perfectly innocent remark about the trees loving RL and wanting to be closer iirc concept brazingly stolen from the 4th book in Douglas Adams’ famous trilogy. MA made a snide but not too insulting third person subjective comment, CP piled it higher and deeper with a comment that I took as questioning my sincerity (but in the end, grokked where I was coming from), and eventually Boardman and Jones piled on just for fun.

    In an et tu? moment, RL also told me I should lighten up at not having fun in responding to the digs.

    Are y’all finished?

    • Michael Anderson says:

      Hey Greg, the reason you are in my cross hairs is because you accused me last week of supporting PPACA because I was going to “dump” my employees into the new California exchange and shift some of the burden of my employee expense to the California taxpayers.

      It was yet another in a series of your unsubstantiated, erroneous, negligent, hurtful, and arrogant comments.

      As I’ve said before, I don’t like bullies. I do understand bullies, however–they are created by mommies who don’t show enough love, and they are usually mollified with empathy and love. Some of them, unfortunately, cannot be fixed with this formula–Adolf Hitler is a great example [yes, I have just willingly and knowingly invoked Godwin’s Law]–and the only solution there is massive counter-force and end-of-days retaliation.

      Are you enjoying your Bashir al-Assad moment?

      • rlcrabb says:

        Ho hum. I read quite a few blogs and articles on various subjects, and I always read the comments. In many instances those who choose to type in their opinions are a snarky bunch. After four or five comments the dialogue devolves into personal grudges that have no bearing whatsoever on the original subject. I suppose it goes with the territory. I am loathe to block any particular author because I know most of the participants and like them for their sometimes original thoughts and ideas. It’s really too bad that they can’t get over themselves to create a constructive dialogue.
        I’d suggest that certain persons start their own little soapboxes, so that they could do these little back-and-forths all day long. After a while no one but those involved would read them, because they they’ll always circle their wagons like a merry-go-round. You’ll always end up right where you started. Nowhere.

        • Todd Juvinall says:

          That is why I started my own blog as well. I could pontificate and have the back and forth. I appreciate GregG’s exposure of the hypocrites on the left. He says it much better than I ever could. I like RL’s approach too. Smack me upside the head with a love pat. The people I find to be hard to take are the MA’s and BenE’s who apparently have no ideological base yet criticize anything conservative. They are easy targets and have thin skin. Blogging is fun, and I am sure RL and GregG have taken as many shoots from the loony left as I have. It is a badge of courage in my view.

      • Greg Goodknight says:

        Mike, thanks for sharing your reason for turning this into a bash Greg moment.

        ” you accused me last week of supporting PPACA because I was going to “dump” my employees into the new California exchange and shift some of the burden of my employee expense to the California taxpayers.”

        Didn’t happen. My recollection is that I *asked* you if you planned on moving your employees onto the exchange, and made no intimation that would be shifting that expense onto taxpayers from anywhere. In fact, my expectation is and was that young and healthy employees, faced with buying it themselves, would pay the penalty and wait for an illness because in the coming storm, *they* will be subsidizing the old and infirm. The system needs them paying more than they are expected to cost the system.

        It also wasn’t last week, and, while I make no claim to not being combative, you cast the first stone in that one, too.

        Let me know if you want the link.

        [PS RL, apologies, but with my full name here I feel a need to counter a false allegation of that sort]

        • Chris Peterson says:

          Too freakin’ funny! There’s folks with some DEEP issues here. What a crack up.

          Thanks Bob, for showing me that I didn’t turn out so messed up after all, and I feel for ya’. They say your not a parent until you’ve swatted blindly into the back seat hoping to connect with a kid. Sorry this happens so often in Battlecar Galactica. hehehe

          “Mom, he won’t stop looking at me!” Too funny.

  17. Robert Lovejoy says:

    Trees are organic. A god thing. Decomposing wood releases carbon. A bad thing to some. Very confusing. What is not confusing is Earl’s comment about cartoonists are forbidden by law to operate power tools. Sweet. And lawyers are forbidden by law to draw cartoons. And never let a contractor touch a paint brush or chalking gun. And never let a framer touch your baseboards. And…

  18. Judith Lowry says:


    I hear a bunch of good people helped you out yesterday with that downed tree.
    I figured today I would see one of your cartoons about it, a bunch of folks busily swarming your backyard with yard tools, all, “a**holes and elbows”, as my dad used to say.
    It’s good to have friends isn’t it?

    There gentlemen, we are back on subject.
    Have a nice day.

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