At my RoofTop Creations shop, I pride myself on the fact that I make coasters only from fallen or discarded wood…or “tree-cycling!” Logs come to me serendipidously and intermittently. When a friend loses a tree in a storm or has a tree taken down due to its proximity to his house, I might get some logs that would otherwise be destined for the chipper or the landfill! Some of these logs turn out to be good quality and some do not. It requires patience, but the perfect logs do come along! Of course, it would be easier to go Paul Bunyon style and just head into the woods with a hatchet. But that goes against everything I do in crafting, so instead, I sit back and wait…the logs always turn up!
One day last year, however, my elderly neighbor had a different plan. “Lisa, it’s Maude,” she said on the phone. “I have some wood for your coasters. Can Joe come over tonight?”
Now I do get calls like this frequently. Donating coaster wood to me usually means getting reliable and goodhearted manpower to clean up fallen trees or branches. My husband and son once cleared an entire fallen tree from another elderly neighbors front yard before she even knew that her tree had been hit by lightning!
But when I asked Maude if a tree or branch had fallen down in her yard, she told me that the tree she was concerned about was still standing. “But it’s dead”, she said. “I can tell it is dead. Tell Joe to bring a saw.” Now Maude knew that I didn’t want to cut down healthy trees just to make coasters, so I asked some questions. What about this tree made her so sure it was dead? Maude’s answers were a bit contradictory and soon I was suspicious that sweet Maude might be craftily trying to get my husband to take down her healthy tree so she could avoid dealing with a tree service! But maybe not…..Joe would just have to go over there to figure it out.
Now, the typical husband, after a long day at work, might not be so gracious if his wife asked him to schlep over to someone’s home to cut down a dead tree. Most husbands, instead, would want to sit at home and watch Finding Big Foot on TV and eat nachos. But Joe is gracious. And he actually enjoys helping others. So although he would have preferred Big Foot and nachos, he went to Maude’s.
Well it turns out that the tree in question was NOT dead. The young tree was alive and well and showed no obvious signs of disease or infestation. For Maude, though, the problem turned out to be that she did not like the way this tall, limbless tree looked. Simply put, it was not pretty.
In addition, Maude didn’t like WHERE this unattractive tree was growing. After all, it was growing IN HER NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR’S YARD!
Maude insisted that her neighbor wouldn’t mind at all if Joe cut the tree down, since after all, the tree was so very ugly. “Just cut it down, Joe!” she said. Maude admitted that she had repeatedly asked her neighbor to remove the eyesore, but he had been unresponsive….so now she was ready to use guerrilla tactics (i.e. my normally law-abiding husband!).
Luckily, Joe was not willing to end up on the crime log circulated by my small town’s Neighborhood Watch. So although he had the cover of darkness on his side, Joe refused Maude’s request. But it turns out that Joe is pretty good at acting the diplomat, so instead of committing the serious crime of illegal landscaping, he simply knocked on the neighbor’s door and quickly facilitated a conversation. Across the fence line, the two neighbors ultimately agreed that the tree could and should be removed. Joe quickly got it done.
For me and my Rooftop shop, it turned out that the logs were not suitable for coasters anyway. But another neighbor didn’t mind the “ugliness” of the wood and gladly added the wood to his firewood pile. In the end, everyone was happy. And Joe went home and ate nachos.
And I, as always, continued to patiently wait for good quality wood to come my way so that I can make coasters.