Each summer, my three sons dream of building their very own tree
house. In many ways, I completely understand this childhood desire
for a fort of one's own. A tree house is freedom: a place where
little boys and girls form a club, craft sacred rules, and eat
entire bags of Gummy Bears without reproach. It is a foray into
adulthood and independence, but one where the promise of mom being
only seconds away remains.
The trouble with my kids' fervent hope for this castle in the
sky is the fact that we do not actually own a tree. The parkway
maple is technically the city's property. During our home search
years ago, I managed to pick the only house in all of Beverly
without a hint of bark or branch.
The Tree Lovers of America often express their disdain for my
lack of forestation skills. They cite my pitiful carbon footprint
and insist I plant a nice spruce as soon as possible. They even try
to shame me with reminders on how I use damaging aerosol hairspray
and that I owe the world at least one mighty oak.
I steadfastly continue to mow down every seedling that dares
The thing is, I know my bad luck. If I were to plant a tree, it
would fall on me. Or it would get diseased and cost $10,000 to fix.
Or its roots would destroy sewer pipes. I never second-guessed my
decision to avoid calamity and disaster in this regard.
Yet I discovered Monday night that the tree sprites were indeed
still after me. But this time?
And they totally got my neighbors:
The kids had been out trying to collect lightening bugs with red
Solo cups when a loud thump disturbed the tranquil night air. Joe
and I sat immobilized on the couch. The only noises we were trained
to respond to were tornado sirens, crying kids, and the local
police helicopter tracking armed felons through the neighborhood. A
loud thump was as benign a noise to us as church bells.
Yet when our neighbor appeared at the back door toting a baby
and two toddlers, we reconsidered our stance on loud thumps. The
distracted mom hastily entrusted her children with us while
mumbling something about a tree crashing through their house.
"You don't think she meant an actual tree-tree, do you?"
questioned Joe once she left.
"Why? Do you suppose it's a metaphor for something else?"
"She was way too calm to have had an actual tree fall on them. I
mean, shouldn't she be hysterical?"
"But then why are all her kids crying about how 'that bad twee
bwoke ow house'? "
Joe put on his shoes to investigate.
Within 20 minutes, the local alderman, emergency personnel, Com
Ed, and a neighbor bearing a casserole all arrived to help.
The next day, I enjoyed six straight hours of mesmerized
children as enormous machinery transported dozens of super-sized
branches across the afternoon sky. The choreography was amazing -
huge cranes and experienced crews working together to dodge
electrical wires, basketball nets, and houses that stood six inches
By the end of it all, the tree was relegated to a pile of mulch.
My neighbors were physically, emotionally, and financially spent. I
assured them that their bad luck was most certainly done for the
But for someone like me who is prone to reading too much into
such a freak occurrence, I was surprised to discover I hadn't
transformed into Chicken Little. The sky was not falling. Everyone
That's when I called Joe at the firehouse to wish him
"You're not going to believe this," he shared, "ANOTHER huge
tree broke and fell on some people today, turn on NBC news. What
are the odds? Trees are just falling out of the sky this week!"
Cue Chicken Little.
I have officially added "falling trees" to my list of phobias
right along with sink holes, tornados, and spontaneous
I may never leave my basement again.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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