21 September 2011

Around Billings: Elegy For An Elm

A nice picture of the penultimate resting place of an elm on Spruce, above the fold of the Local & State section of this morning's Gazette, captures your attention immediately, especially with the headline—A 'priceless' tree—so that Ed Kemmick can exercise his rhetorical skills in celebrating the loss of one of those splendid trees in the 'tree streets.'

I drove around this pleasant part of town this morning and could barely tell where the tree had stood so tall for so many years. Somebody, presumably the city, had been busy cleaning up the scene, perhaps in order to discourage the gawkers who didn't live nearby. Like many people and most trees, if you mess with the city's sidewalks, you must pay the price.

Although the homeowner and the city are treated in a scrupulously neutral fashion, as Kemmick always does, it doesn't take the reader long to figure out the score. The tree doesn't really belong to the home-owner as the lot doesn't extend that far, no matter who planted it. For the sake of safety, the city builds a sidewalk, which in some places in our fair town, must be paid for by the homeowners on that street, but not apparently in the 'tree street' part of town.

So, for the loss of a single tree to shade your house and to visually delight us all, the city builds the homeowner a new sidewalk, beautifies his landscaping and repairs his irrigation system, and plants a new tree at some future time. And you get a nice obituary, free I expect, for the tree in the Gazette. That is a pretty good deal.

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