Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trees: Friend & Foe

It is amazing that God in His sovereign providence created us the way He did, so that our bodies respond to the environment He so intricately created -- with every perfect detail carefully planned, yet instantly spoken into existence. We breathe oxygen. Trees give off oxygen. Trees require carbon dioxide. We exhale carbon dioxide. What an awesome Creator!

In Moçambique, as I read blog posts from our stateside friends, I began to realize how much I missed the beauty and splendor of the autumn season. In Alabama, fall arrived quite late and lasted only briefly, as a torrential downpour usually stripped the trees of all their colorful foliage in a matter of days. Penn's Woods, on the other hand, offer quite a spectacular display that outlasts our tolerance for yard work.

One thing that I especially love about our neighborhood here is the fact that the large, beautiful, ancient trees give the illusion that we are not a mere six (or so) miles from downtown Pittsburgh. They offer shade, character, and plenty of creatures to tempt and taunt Rhodes as he remains tethered to our outside railing during school hours.

There is a dark side, however, to these botanical monuments, and we are discovering the hazards thereof. Behold this weekend's fiasco:

As we were preparing to take a day trip with my parents on Sunday to Christmas in the Woods, Graham was returning Rhodes to his pen when he discovered a sewage problem in the back of the house. Further investigation revealed a growing puddle in our basement laundry area. Without lengthening the story, I'll say that an entire day's visit from a plumber unveiled a problem from a past architectural era: terra cotta pipes that hadn't yet been replaced by PVC. Apparently, the old pipes finally met their destiny with the large, invasive tree roots, carrying the problem far beyond our property line, into the main road running through town. 

While an older home that's been refurbished is charming, it can present issues that we hadn't considered at first. Two days later, the men are still working. I'm thankful for our Moçambican experience that conditioned us to adjust in times when we can't run water or flush the toilets. Praise be to God -- there's a light at the end of this tunnel!

While living in Alabama, my one complaint about the new development where we resided was that there were no shade trees. The builders provided a couple of token landscape trees per lot, but we'll never see them reach full maturity. The bright side of this situation was that our yard responsibilities were minimal. Here in our tree-lined suburban Pittsburgh community, quite the opposite is true. Morgan took this photo this morning, after sweeping the patio just yesterday. If this is any foreshadowing of what winter will offer, Craig Grayson and Graham would do well to strengthen their arms for their snow tasks.

Before leaving the subject of the hazards presented by our trees, I can't fail to mention that our damaged railing is yet awaiting repair. We're settled enough now to offer hospitality to friends and family, despite our inhospitable railing. I pray it's fixed before anyone gets hurt.