Yesterday morning, I got a Facebook message with a photo attached, “I think that’s your tree.”

First photo I got

First photo I got

It was hard to decipher what I was seeing. Then, it all came into focus.

“Why, yes, that is my very large, very grand old tree blocking the whole street and crushing a pickup truck,” I thought.

It seems like the 35 mph wind gusts in Washington, DC, were too much for my tired old tree. It decided it had had enough of standing in my yard, fighting off hurricanes, blizzards, derechos, polar vortexes, and all of the other weather phenomenon I’ve learned about in the past few years.

It was good practice for conjugating Spanish verbs into the past tense. When I met up with a classmate later in the day, I said, “I had a tree.” Instead of “I have a tree.”

I am so grateful to modern technology. My tenant and I were able to FaceTime so I could receive updates. The best was when we created a conference call—I was on FaceTime with him while he called the insurance company on the house phone (yes, I still have a landline and am glad of it). He and a neighbor sent photos.

View from porch

Tree’s blocking the street and alley

Since the tree was blocking the entire street and alley entrance, the city deemed it a hazard and called out a crew to remove it. They arrived a few hours later and finished the job in less than four hours.

Of course, they only needed to clear the street and sidewalk, so I still have the root ball and part of the trunk in my front yard. The same company has been caring for the tree for years and someone will be out this week to assess how to finish the job.

Then the landscapers will get to have fun figuring out what to do with all of the new space. As my neighbor with the green thumb said, “Now we can have full sun gardens.” (Yes, that also was exactly my first thought when I received the news.)

We knew the tree was not healthy and would need to come down eventually. We just didn’t expect it to happen in this manner and at this time. Lucky timing for my tenant.

Although, to be fair, it seems major house disasters happen only when I’m out of the country. Last year, I was in Albania when a pipe burst. The plumber told my friend, who was housesitting, “This is such an unusual place for a pipe to break—I rarely see this.” Lucky timing for my friend.

Only cosmetic damage

Only cosmetic damage

Amazingly, the damage was minimal. As you can see in the photos, the tree appeared to have crushed a pickup truck parked in front of my house. The initial assessment after the tree was removed is that the damage is cosmetic—the truck is running. The tree also took off the side-view mirror of a car parked across the street and damaged the front porch of a house across the street. My concrete stairs and landings are torn up, but luckily nothing happened to my neighbor’s adjoining stairs so my tenant can still get in and out of the house. We believe none of the water, sewer or gas pipes were impacted.

In addition to the new sun garden, I heard that this event had another silver lining: it brought many of the neighbors out of their houses and they took the time to socialize.

This post is mostly to publicly thank my tenant and neighbors for being so on top of everything. I am grateful for them. I am grateful for the minimal destruction. I am grateful for the city for quickly responding.

I also wrote this post to have an excuse to post a photo album from the day. There are cool time-lapse videos of the removal process there too.

Panorama view of the street

Panorama view of the street

Update: The tree was in the newspaper. Two trees felled on blustery Saturday in Washington area – The Washington Post