When I left you last week we had a contractor ready to make an estimate on an addition to our house and a big old maple tree in the back yard. The contractor is still here – sometimes, but the maple tree is gone, well almost.
First, the maple tree. It was there when we moved in many years ago, and it grew admirably.
I really loved that tree. Bill wasn’t as fond of it as I was, probably because after the kids grew up he was the one who had to rake the leaves every year.
When we talked about putting an addition onto the house, he always pointed out the tree would have to go. Sometime after the last trimming of the limbs that threatened the roof, he pointed out we were losing rotten limbs from the tree during every storm. He told me the tree was rotting from the top down. A likely story.
Then the contractor came in with an estimate for a 12 by 12 addition that would only cost more than twice what we paid for the whole house when we bought it years ago. It would provide a laundry room, a nice coat closet and the desired first floor bathroom. It would provide a target for whatever limbs on the tree which were ready to fall.
I never really agreed, but the plans went forward. The day the tree was felled I left home early. By the time I returned the tree was down. It was apparent Bill had warned Rick and his crew that I was not happy about my tree’s demise. They took the time to show me the rot in the tree. There really was a lot of it.
When they left there were large pieces of tree everywhere, waiting for our boys who haves fireplaces. When the two youngest grandsons arrived later, they didn’t seem to notice our big back yard looked shorter and wider without the tree. They were all over the pieces. Kids were climbing the tree again.
The 8 year old asked how old the tree was. I showed him how to count the rings on the tree. After the saws had passed through it was difficult to see the rings. I left him counting and came into the house. When he came in, I asked him how old the tree was. With a straight face he solemnly reported, “1,000 years!” I think he was tired of counting and overestimated.
The next day the guys with fireplaces came in with the log splitter. They began the muscle-aching job of turning the tree into firewood. I watched for a while, and then came in with the thought the good old tree would be keeping our children and their children warm this winter.
Slowly came the realization that I had a bunch of men out there splitting, sawing, loading wood and working up a big appetite. All their wives and mothers were at home. I was going to have to provide a meal for them. The next realization was that with just males to feed, I did not have to provide a good healthy balanced meal from salad to dessert. Meat and potatoes would do it.
By meal time we had a big pot of beef and noodles with mashed potatoes, lots of green beans cooked in butter, plus apple sauce, along with bread and butter and jelly. Not a big variety, but plenty of food.
As they finished eating, one of the grandsons asked if he could have a piece of the big Hershey bar. The next thing I knew they all had a chocolate bar for dessert. I told myself they’d already worked it off.
That brought the startling thought I was going to have to provide another meal because they planned to work until dark. By then one of the daughters arrived. We went shopping and provided hot dogs, sausage, patties, chips and freshly baked chocolate cake with ice cream for dessert.
So ended the third day of the big renovation. There were still logs to split and load and a room to build.
Unlike the creation of the world, I already know it will take longer than seven days to get this job done.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate June 18, 2003.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.