A short story in the life of Arthur Drive in the Highland Acres neighborhood of Bismarck today, Aug. 5, 2020. “Short” being a relative term in the eyes of the beholder.
Our next-door neighbors have a lovely big tree. Some sort of boxelder, I think. Everyone in the neighborhood values their trees. (That is, of course, until a storm comes through and makes a big mess.) We’ve watched this drama on and off since we bought the place.
We didn’t buy the house from Tim Kingstad because of the big tree in the front yard, but we knew it was a handsome specimen and some city forester told us pretty quickly that it was the largest Red Oak in Bismarck. You can read that story on our website RedOakHouse.com. Hence, we dubbed the house we bought and love Red Oak House. Thank you, Tim, for selling us the house. We remain friends and have him over when mutual schedules permit. (He lives a short drive away now, depending on the traffic.)
We’ve been lovingly tending the Red Oak Tree as best we can and we knew that it needed some attention in the foreseeable future to avoid a Y close to the base — combined with the weight of the spreading branches — from splitting that big ol’ tree in the turbulent weather of any season in North Dakota. (Have you heard the wind blows here?) It was on our radar.
Lo and behold, a few weeks ago, the big tree next door dropped a huge branch one morning on neighbor’s camper parked in their driveway. Fortunately, no one was inside and the damage was minimal. The nice neighbors told us what had happened and we watched Bullinger Tree Service arrive later that evening and deal with the emergency in the midst of a thunderstorm. Impressive in spite of the fact that their lawn was seriously damaged. (Triage, I know.)
It is good to be on friendly terms with one’s neighbors. This was all happening in the midst of my father’s funeral planning at our house. As I said to my siblings, “This is why our father was nervous about trees being close to houses.” He had dealt with these issues all his life and was, true story, between stints in the Army (World War II and then the Korean War) a lineman for a county in Mississippi. I do have some fondness for the beautiful Glen Campbell song for that reason, I suppose.
There have been so many boats and construction trucks and trailers and such coming and going this summer, who needs reality TV? This new pontoon trailer was parked by the neighbors’ house on the grass, temporarily — after all, the grass was, for now, ruined — and it would be perhaps months before they could get someone back to do anything more than emergency work on the tree. And Bismarck has ordinances about leaving wheeled vehicles on the street beyond a set time limit.
Meanwhile, we went back to gardening and our life tasks. But we did learn from Nice Neighbor that the tree companies in Bismarck are backed up in their schedules into the fall (not a big surprise). And she showed us that Bullinger had wrapped their tree with a big ol’ chain to hold it together until more work could be done to avoid losing their tree. And to our surprise, she showed us a cable that had been installed long ago that we had never noticed in all the years of living here, tucked away in the branches of that tree.
Earlier this spring, we had the city forester over to give advice about our Red Oak. (Yes, we paid for that service.) Since Bullinger was right next door, we snagged him to send us an estimate for a cable for our tree, which was promptly delivered. Nice Neighbor told us that we might work together to get a reliable tree service here at the same time. And Tuesday, she kindly gave me the heads-up that this morning was going to get busy as a tree service was coming to finish their tree. They don’t want to lose the tree and its shade, either.
Before all that action started, Jim and I had a quiet morning on our back patio and I shot some video.
Then, I got busy shooting video of the tree process next door, and Jim and I snagged the tree service owner to negotiate work on our tree! Quite a process.
And, no, we aren’t in the market for wood chips for the yard right now. We’ve got other deadlines. Jim has harvested garlic and lots of vegetables (well, I helped with the weeding). The perennial beds are thirsty (still a lack of rain), but our water bill is manageable. I made the time to update my daylily spreadsheet (my sister and I share daylilies — no it isn’t a contest, it is fun and frugal. Her Mandan garden is spectacular (food and flowers and trees). You should drive by someday. 2403 Bender Place. My best estimate is she and I have a total of 235 unique daylily cultivars. Of those, I have 94 unique cultivars and 202 total, and she has 108 total with 33 unique.
But she and I are busy people, so the inventory is a little out of date. It is close though. We share with each other and with friends. Someday when life settles down (hah!) we might hold a joint perennial sale in her driveway or mine. This year, I enjoyed giving away herbs, raspberries grubs and some irises to my sweet neighbor across the street. Jim has built quite a market for his hand-grown tomato seedlings and swaps many with his friends. (That is when the frost doesn’t get ’em.)
I’ll let you in on a family secret. Jim makes the best homemade pizza on the block! And that’s a firm no, we aren’t thinking of selling the house. We are firmly planted here in the heart of North Dakota, our home state.
I’ve got some backyard birding and pollinator watching to do and some other things on my calendar. Publish!
Enjoy my videos (sorry not in chronological order).