While I was away working at the Lutheran Church Texas District Convention on a video project, Aspen Tree Service was working on clearing our lot of all remaining trees, save for one. Working steadily both Saturday and Sunday, Aspen knocked over the approximately 70+ pines that still stood along with random cedars and yaupons bringing a close to nearly 9 months of clean-up on our property since the September 4 wildfires ravaged our area.
As I drove up this morning to see the result I was both humbled and encouraged. It certainly looked very different having the trees cleared.
“It looks good!” a voice called out to me. I looked over toward Daniel’s property and there was his wife, Maria, smiling. She had been working in their gardens.
“It really does!” I said to her. “I’m surprised. It takes some adjusting to but its nice to see it cleared.”
We chatted for a bit until my appointment arrived and I waved goodbye to Maria. My meeting today was with Tommy, a fire investigator with Quest Fire Analysis, whom I had met along with a private investigator at a prior coffee shop meeting in Austin. Working for insurance companies they were working to discover more about the causes of the fires and were most focused on and interested in the easement area. Tommy and I were meeting so that I could share my story about the events on the day of the fire and pinpoint what I saw and exactly where. I recounted the events of that windy September 4 afternoon, now seeming so long ago, as we walked the property.
While we talked, Ben, who had tagged along with me, was running around the acreage playing in the sand and dirt, discovering new adventures on our now tree-less property. Well…tree-less except for one. Tracy and I had both agreed we wanted to leave that lone oak tree up, even though it was clearly dead. It had been such a unique tree in our yard that we wanted some familiar element to remain on the now very unfamiliar property.
And so it now stands, a lone sentry on an otherwise empty lot, holding quiet vigil over our now barren acre.
As Tommy and I finished up our chat, Daniel came over and we talked for a bit too. He marveled at how quickly the Aspen crew tore up all of our trees and made quick work of bulldozing them down and piling them up for hauling away. Tommy and I wrapped up our business, Daniel and I said goodbye for now, and Ben and lagged behind at the property long enough to snap a few photos before heading out back home to Austin. It was only about 10 am and it was already getting incredibly hot! Besides, new developments were underway regarding a possible future home for our family and I needed to get back to attend to those plans.
So, yet another stage of this long process comes to a close. Once the pile of trees stacked at both the front and back right-of-way on our property, and the remaining concrete foundation pieces piled at the front, are hauled off then we will be completely wrapped up with the post-fire clean-up and debris removal. Its been a length, tiring process. Part of me is sad to see such an empty lot. But part of me is also glad to be done with this part of our journey.
I’d have to agree with Daniel’s wife, Maria: It does look good. At the very least it does look better cleaned up as opposed to the sticks of dead trees that covered the acre only a few short days ago.
Now we can move forward, focused on revitalizing the landscape for the future. And that’s something I’m actually looking forward to.