Last month, like all good Americans, we filed our 2008 tax return. Unlike previous years, I was actually excited about it because this was the first time since 2001 that the government owed me money. We've been keeping a pretty close eye on our money since getting back from California, so we were looking forward to being able to "splurge" a little on some projects that we've postponed for a while. We have grand plans for finally getting our back yard in shape, not to mention a little debt that it would be nice to pay off early, so we were pretty happy to have that money coming our way.
As luck would have it, not two days went by after our refund was direct-deposited in our account that we got a knock at the door from a gentleman at the Department of Water. Apparently they had received a notification of a leak in the area and wondered if we had noticed anything like water in the basement or lower than usual water pressure. We hadn't, but after poking around in our yard a bit the culprit was found down near the street. We were told that they would have to dig up a little bit to see what was going on, and that if there was a leak on our side we would need to get it repaired.
The next day, an entire crew from the Department of Water pulled up to examine the situation. Sure enough, there was a small crack in the water line just barely on our side of the tap. I asked the worker in charge what that meant, and what getting it fixed would entail. He went into quite a bit of detail about pipe fittings and galvanized steel, and frankly used the word "nipple" many more times than I'm generally comfortable hearing from a stranger. I was very flattered that he assumed that what I meant by "What do I need to do to get this fixed?" was that I was capable of doing something like that myself. However, he might as well have been speaking Greek. Hell, he might as well have tried to communicate with me telepathically.
To add insult to injury, we were told that this crack was directly on top of our favorite tree, and that it would have to be removed. I don't know definitively how old this tree is, but I distinctly remember it being the first thing I noticed when we were house hunting two years ago. It sits right on the curb, between the sidewalk and the street, and has these beautiful red/pink buds all Spring and Summer.
Coincidentally, on the same day that the water crew was out to tell us we would have to lose this tree, another crew was on our street to cut down some overgrown branches on some other trees in the neighborhood. After a little sweet talking, they agreed to go ahead and cut our tree down while they were at it.
And just like that, after five minutes and an extremely large chainsaw, our tree was gone. As traumatic as all of this was, I do have to say that everyone from the city -- water and tree-trimming divisions alike -- were extremely helpful and friendly. Before the tree came down, I had a great conversation with the gentleman in charge of the tree-trimmers about what a great tree it was and what a shame it was that it had to go. I think he could tell that we were pretty sad to see it go, so once the tree was whittled down to a stump he was kind enough to cut off these cross sections for us to hang on to.
At the end of the day, we've lost our favorite tree and are stuck with a costly repair that's going to set us back somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000, and we're leaking water into the storm drain that is likely to jack our quarterly water bill up quite a bit. But hey, at least we've got these chunks of wood to remember all the good times.