Keep clear!

If only keeping a clear mind were as easy as heeding the warnings on a piece of heavy machinery! Today’s Photo Friday theme is Heavy, so I’m revisiting some photos of cherry-pickers and wood-chippers–heavy machinery–I’d photographed at the Dillant-Hopkins Airport in Swanzey, NH back in May, 2007.


In the aftermath of last weekend’s stormy weather, tree and landscape crews have been out in force throughout Newton, cutting broken limbs and fallen trunks. Dismantling windblown trees is hard work, and the sound of chainsaws and wood-chippers has been a prominent part of this week’s ambient soundtrack: an auditory reminder of the heavy-handed influence of heavy weather.

Even in the absence of heavy machinery, storm clean-up has been ongoing: this morning I saw a librarian outside the Waban Library Center doing her part to clean up tree debris, dragging small branches into a pile by a city waste basket. Dressed like a quintessential librarian, she was wearing a long skirt and sensible shoes, and she was carrying a small stack of children’s books in one arm. Even if you aren’t dressed for heavy lifting, there are always small things that need tidying.

Big wheel

Walking down an accustomed road on our usual dog-walk this morning, Reggie and I had to turn around, the road blocked with those aforementioned wood-chippers and tree-crews. The particular house where they were working, though, didn’t have any storm damage that I could remember, and the tree they were chainsawing into logs looked healthy. This particular house recently changed hands, and I’ve been worried that the new owners would make radical changes to its landscaping: their neighbors had cut down a couple of tall pines last autumn, and this particular house is surrounded by a woodsy fringe of unkempt undergrowth where I regularly see the year’s first snowdrops and crocuses along with wildflowers such as trillium and jack-in-the-pulpit.

The woodsy fringe around this house, in other words, is a small spot of almost-wildness in an otherwise immaculate suburb: a small strip of real estate I’d prefer be left untidy. It’s a curious habit I’ve observed in neighbors nearly everywhere I’ve ever lived, though: you buy a charming house that caught your eye because it was shaded by trees, then you move in and cut them all down. It happened with my old house in Hillsboro, NH, which used to be screened from the street by a half-acre of pines–the last time I drove by, I saw a half-acre of stumps–and it seems to be happening here and there in Newton. It’s enough to make your heart feel heavy.

This is my contribution to today’s Photo Friday theme, Heavy.

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