Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Spite Tree

THE MORE DON wanted the tree gone, the more Jim refused. It caused a lot of tension in the hood and the tree stood the test of time, but it's finally coming down.

When we moved into our Calftown house 11 years ago, our next-door neighbor was Don, and the man living next to him was Jim. Both men lived in their houses for decades. Jim's parents bought the house and he inherited it. The two men were friends but they often feuded and had the whole rivalry thing going. In their later years, they'd sit on Don's back porch sipping a beverage and laughing about all the stupid stuff they used to do.

One day Jim decided to plant a pine tree next to his garage, located off the alley behind his house. He carefully plotted out the exact spot for the tree, and it was right next to Don's property line. The tree grew and then started dropping needles and cones, clogging the gutters of Don's garage roof. It was a messy and frankly ugly tree, and Don hated it.

A pretty pine,
Not Jim's pine tree
Jim loved it. He used it to shelter his pet cemetery. He'd bury the family animals under the tree, take their tags and set them in stone, and mark their graves. This drove Don nuts and they often barked back and forth at each other about the ugly tree, the pet graves and whether it was actually on Don's property.

The years went by and the tree grew. Jim got cancer and passed away. Don, who lived in his house for 60 years, died several years ago. We think Don might be rolling over in his grave knowing who lives in his house now, but that's another story for another time.

Jim's house has changed hands several times. Right now there are several young men living in it and taking good care of it. This morning one of them was on a ladder chopping off branches of the pine tree, so Sheryl went over to talk with him. Turns out they are taking the tree down to make more parking space back there. Sheryl told him the story of the spite tree and they laughed.

By the time we get home tonight, the tree will probably be down, and another piece of Calftown neighborhood lore goes with it.

We really miss those guys.

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