Sometime before 8 am a few mornings ago, a large truck arrived in front of our house, a group of strange men piled out with chainsaws in tow, and began chopping down a sizeable portion of trees on the side of our house and yard. Who commissioned these men? Certainly not the owner of our rental house – he was too cheap to even agree to put window coverings in this place. We concluded that it must be the neighbors, and that these trees which seem in “our” yard must actually be part of theirs. We still are puzzling over why, if someone were to go to such trouble, they would only remove some of them, and not all, why they’d merely cut a five-foot swath between the tallest trees and the fenceline. At the end of the day, the landscape was significantly changed.
Usually I would be sad at such a violating gesture, but not this time. The removed trees are all “tree of Heaven,” ailanthus altissima, a highly-invasive species native to China and Taiwan. They are the foundation of what is literally a non-native ecosystem in our yard. I once spent two days in Schenley Park in Pittsburgh with no other goal than to remove ailanthus seedlings, fought with them in my own yard there, and I know firsthand what a pervasive, stubborn, impossible species it is. I know too that because those men left behind remnants – the stumps – by the end of the summer, it’s likely that much of that work will have been pointless. It can, and will, come back with a vengeance. That’s what it does. Always.
Just more evidence that things out of place are usually out of place for good reason.