Wednesday, May 3, 2017

When a Tree Falls in the Woods

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people. -G.K. Chesterton

My daughter is in love with photography and she has the eye for it. For her 16th birthday, we gave her a Cannon Powershoot G9X Mark II, which is a solid mid-range point-and-shoot digital camera. Her favorite thing to do is walk around taking pictures of anything that catches her eye. Sunday she was out in the backyard and came to show me the dead tree in the neighboring yard finally came down...on our fence.

The first time we had a dead tree come down on the fence from the same neighboring yard was within in just a few months after we had moved here nearly twenty years ago. The neighbor came over and told us. Honestly, we did not see it from the house because of the overgrowth of the wooded part of our yard. The neighbor asked us to give him a few days to take care of it. He replaced the top bar of the chain link fence and re-attached the chain link part. It looked good when he finished. Those were our first neighbors on our north side and they were nice people.

A few years ago the neighbors on the south side, the daughter of the owner, decided to hire someone to remove a few trees and one heavy branch fell on our fence. They had not warned us that they would be having trees removed like her mother would have done if she still lived there, which would have been nice as it is quite noisy, but I just looked at it as she is a young mother and probably just did not think of it. I had to tell the her about the fence being damaged and asked how to contact the company. They did not tell her about the fence and fortunately it just missed our shed. They removed the branch but the fence was still damaged after they left and apparently they were going to leave it that way, until we insisted it was fixed. The company finally repaired the fence, not professionally, but at least it was functional.

For the last several years, there has been a dead, split-nearly-completely-down-the-middle-of-the-main-trunk tree in the neighbor's yard to north side. That property has had several occupants since our first neighbors as it became a rental after the second owner moved closer to her work and she rented it to her boyfriend at first. When he moved out, the owner contracted with a property management company. The first renters were there for five years and the tree was obviously dead while they lived there. After they moved away, there were two more renters within just over a two-year period—the first one is still a good friend of mine. My friend would not let her children play in the backyard and called the property management company several times about the tree but they, or the owner, would not have it removed.

That tree finally came down on our fence. We did not know when and did not see it because it is on the very back corner which we cannot see from the house but the Princess found it just yesterday. So, my husband goes over to our newest neighbors, who are the new owners and have not said but a handful of words to us since moving in months ago—actually they ignore us and walk away when they can. Strange family.

I walked up hearing my husband being diplomatic and offering to help them with clearing the tree and repairing the fence. The wife then begins to say that she was trying to figure it out who was responsible because...well, now I have to say here that Georgia has some weird laws and one of them is about fallen trees. If the tree falls onto your property, it is your responsibility. However, I knew that there is a bit more to that statute if you look at case law.

She went on to say that it looked as if the fence damage was our responsibility. I told her by law, she is right with the exception of when the tree is obviously diseased or dead and that tree had been dead for years. The whole time her husband is sitting on the porch behind the roll-up blind that was rolled down so we cannot see his face and will not even get up to address us, but my husband again offered to help him with the tree and our fence. He said something about not having a chainsaw and his father only having a 16-inch one so that would probably not work. My husband mentioned he has one and to let him know when he wanted to work on it. That went better than I thought it would because from the conversations we cannot help but overhear from behind the rolled down blinds, the guy talks like he cusses everyone out all the time, especially at his work.

When we walked away, I apologized to my husband for stepping into the conversation with the legalities-responsibility thing, because I probably sounded a bit short with them. Reading the attitudes when I walked up, I already knew they were not going to be cooperative and my husband was already irritated but keeping it well controlled. That is when he told me that they had known about the tree for a week, which they told him before I came out, and he was already put off thinking: who does that? 

So, we are not expecting them to do anything to make this right...but I keep hoping that I will be surprised about how wrong I read into how they will handle it.

Still, if this is how God is giving us the sign that we should move to more open spaces, it is quite motivating.

My Lord, I am not sure if You are trying to motivate us to move or giving us a challenge to love our neighbors/enemies, perhaps a both. Make Your path very obvious to us and help us to be good witnesses of your forgiveness and love.

1 comment:

Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.