I can’t stop my neighbors from making bad decisions, like three years ago when the neighbors kitty corner and below me cut down five large pine trees and changed my back yard forever. I lost a number of plants to the afternoon sun, plants that had established themselves in shade. My own small pine tree got a huge dose of sunlight and is now taller than my house.
The neighbors below me rebuilt their 45-year-od wood side fence that borders the park, instead of springing for a new one. All the posts had to be replaced.
We dickered over the back fence that separates our two yards until they agreed to split the cost of a new one with me. My flat lot is above their sloping lot. I looked at their house when it was on the market the same time as mine was. I didn’t want the three levels of living space or the bowl of a back yard. It was like the house was sitting in a hole.
But their beautiful valley oak tree right out my kitchen window is lovely to look at, at the narrowest part of my back yard (I have a pie lot at the end of a court). Even though it isn’t in my yard, it creates a nice ambience for me while doing kitchen work, like cooking or washing dishes.
Now, ten years later, the valley oak is in trouble. The neighbors have hired people to dig the bowl in their backyard into a square box, which means tons of dirt had to be removed. I heard the Bobcat and peeked over the fence. Looking down, I could see the corners being cut to expand the yard to a usable size.
I heard the Bobcat for several days and noticed a huge pile of tree roots when I peered over the fence again. Those were oak-tree roots as the bobcat shaved more and more dirt away from the base of the tree.
It’s not my tree and not my yard, but I’m still sad about it. The oak must be twenty or thirty years old by now. I’ve no doubt enjoyed it more than they have since it is on a hill above their windows. Now that nearly a third of the root system has been removed, the tree will surely die. Maybe not today or this week or month or even this year, but the tree will suffer because somebody wanted to buy a huge retaining wall to get a bigger piece of level in their yard.
It’s my squirrel tree, where I watched them chase each other and leap onto neighboring trees out of my view. It’s the tree that drops its leaves in the winter so that I can see Las Trampas Ridge. It’s the green tree that blocks the neighbor’s house from my view the rest of the year. It’s only 15 feet away from my kitchen window.
The neighbors are going to miss that tree when it croaks, but not as much as I will.