We've got a bunch of trees in the yard, mostly maples, because they grow with a Borg-like relentlessness around here. bunny_hugger was examining one tree that's always looked a bit flimsy. She poked around the base and realized it was a lot flimsy. There was barely bark on the north side (the one facing our lot) and there was a lot of empty space or rotted wood within.
We called in a tree expert and the verdict was not as bad as I had feared. I had feared he would look at the tree and run away, screaming. But it was sad news: the tree was better cut down on purpose before it fell down by surprise. He figured it would likely fall on the neighbors' yard, but we really aren't that angry with them, so, no. The tree guy did reveal that the tree --- a double-trunked one --- clearly used to be part of a four-trunked tree. He estimated the other two fell down, probably in the ice storm of 1997, and that the tree had never really healed from that. (That's longer than bunny_hugger has been in this house.) In that light the strange shape of the tree's base suddenly made sense.
The day of tree-clearing came. They talked with the neighbors, because the tree was much easier to access from their yard. That required the neighbors move cars around and we're glad we didn't have to ask them directly. I did try to talk to the neighbors in the days before the clearing was scheduled, but I couldn't catch them. I left a note, but goodness knows if they read it.
The cutting took hours and I mostly stayed indoors, working, rather than observing it. The loss of tree cover from the backyard seemed likely to be heartbreaking. Also bunny_hugger had noticed some small animal --- a mouse, maybe, or chipmunk --- lived in the hollow in the tree stump. It's lost that home, now. From the stump we estimate the tree to date to about 1980. It's hard to be sure; the ghost of the lost trunks confuse the rings, and the rings aren't perfect shapes anyway.
With this tree --- one of three marking the southern edge of the lot --- gone, though, we get a lot more light. Well, duh, you may say, but there are a lot of trees surrounding the yard and it's amazing how much difference the one makes. The pond started getting far more sun, and one of the lily pads, that hadn't done much of anything all summer, started putting up a blossom. And the leaves are much less overwhelming right now. We had figured to promptly replace the tree with a new one, but now we're considering whether we might be better off as is.
Trivia: In 1870 there were about fifteen black people living in Atlantic City, New Jersey. By 1885 there were 1,220 (about fifteen percent of the city's population). Source: New Jersey: A History of the Garden State, Editors Maxine N Lurie, Richard Veit.
Currently Reading: Pogo's Double Sundae, Walt Kelly.
PS: How October Treated My Mathematics Blog, which is, better than September did.