I take different routes on my daily commutes to see if any limbs or trees have come down. Today, taking a road I never take, I hit the jackpot – a full, large, old Jacaranda tree with fungus rot through its base fell over on its own this morning, on a windless, quake-free day, narrowly missing a pedestrian.
I knocked on the door and a nice lady answered, holding back her dog. We talked for a half hour, but she had an endless stream of concerns, all of which I tried to answer:
she: It’s rotten, though. It fell over from a fungal infection.
me: That’s only at the base, and even sections near that may only be spalted, and even prettier because of it.
she: But it won’t be structurally sound.
me: Most of it will be, but I won’t be using most or any of this wood in structural ways – more for carving and panel work.
she: You carve?
me: Well, not so much, but I turn things on my lathe, etc.
she: I can’t cover the costs if you get hurt.
me: I won’t expect you to. I’ll be careful, and not hold you liable for anything. (I know, hearsay, but still true)
she: Well, what if any of it hits that car?
me: We can have the lady next door move it while I work.
she: Do you think it could hit the house?
me: No, it’s too far away, and I’ll trim all the small, long limbs with a pole saw first so it has no long reach.
she: Well, I’m afraid it will fall in the street.
me: Again, I’ll trim all the small bits that overhang the street first, but if the long branch falls in the street, I’ll just drag it back out – it’s not too big.
she: What if it falls on a passing car.
me: (looks around at the road which has had no cars for the last 20 minutes) I’ll only cut that limb when no cars are on the street.
she: I’m still just too concerned.
Argh! If it had been a grumpy old man more mad at the mess on his lawn than worried about everything else under the sun, I’d already have it all cleared out. Anyway, she did take my numbers, and told me she’d call the moment the city tree guys showed up so I could come ask for the pieces. They were supposed to come by, but I took a work break and drove by at 5:30 – still there. She was leaving for the day tomorrow, and wanted it gone before then, and said she’d call if they didn’t show up by 5PM, but at 6:45PM, still no word.
This is a full tree with all kinds of play areas – burls, branches of every kind, a thick trunk (~18”), and even possible spalting (there are mushroom halves sticking out the sides at the bottom) – not close to anything that could get hurt, and literally one block from my house (one street over). I’ve been itching to try Jacaranda all year, but I may be blocked an overly concerned homeowner.
Wish me luck!
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator