Commentary: Chomping at the bit about a neighborhood tree

When you see something consistently every day for a long time, you begin to grow some sort of sentimental value for it. A lot of the time you don’t realize this feeling until it’s gone.

For 17 years I have lived in Shelton in the same house on Longfellow Road, which is in the White Hills section, near the Monroe border.

At the beginning of my street was a giant tree that must have been well over a hundred years old. Because of its size and age, the tree was a huge landmark for my road.

 

‘It’s the street with the big tree’

Whenever I had someone new coming over to my house I always would tell them, “It’s the street with the big tree — you can’t miss it.” Most people on my street probably used that same description when giving directions to their homes.

It may have been just a gigantic tree for people passing by, but for the people who live on the road and pass it every day it was more than that.

In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy came right through Connecticut, leaving its mark all over the state. The morning after the storm I didn’t have electricity, so I looked outside my window to check on damage.

 

Caution tape blocking the street

I couldn’t see more than leaves and branches scattered all over the place, but caution tape was blocking off my street.

An unusual number of cars were parked on the side of the road and people were walking up to the caution tape. I ran outside to see what had happened, and what I saw was a major shock for me.

The big tree at the beginning of my road had snapped in half and landed in the road, blocking the intersection of my road and East Village Road. No one could believe this had happened — this ancient tree we drove past and saw every day was now dead.

 

A shared feeling of sadness

There was definitely a shared feeling of sadness among all the people looking at this fallen landmark.

After the week it took to clean up the street, it felt weird driving past the tree for a while. What was left of the tree was about a 50-foot stump with no branches.

It was very sad to see this amazing piece of nature having been destroyed. The stump of the tree was still big enough to make our street stand out, though.

As a couple months went by and the sadness started to fade, we became accustomed to the half a tree. What was left helped us feel like the tree was still there and nothing had changed.

 

Noticing a big truck

Until one day a couple of weeks ago. I was coming home from school and I noticed a big truck and workers directing traffic at the corner of my street.

As I drove by slowly and turned onto my street, I noticed the rest of the tree was gone. The town had hired someone to take down the rest of this landmark. Once again I was in shock.

“Why would they take the rest of the tree down?” I asked myself.

What was left of the tree wasn’t bothering anybody — there was no reason to take it down. It was a big, bulky stump that wasn’t going to fall over.

I was furious. The tree was now completely gone and I will never see any part of that tree again.

 

Neighbors should have been consulted

Why did the town have to take the rest of the tree down? Yeah, it might have been dead but no one wanted to see that tree get taken down.

There was no warning of this event. I think all the people who live near this landmark should have had a say on the existence of the rest of the tree.

The people that ordered the tree to be cut down probably don’t even live near it, so what do they care if it gets cut down?

 

Taking away the meaning

If they thought they were helping us out by cutting down a broken tree, they were wrong. They took away any meaning this street had; now it’s just an ordinary road.

With every day that goes by, the once beautiful landmark that nature gave us is slowly being forgotten. The city should have given us a chance to try and save it, but instead of doing that they cut it down behind our backs.

The damage is permanent and the tree I looked at thousands of times is now just a memory of my past.

 

Nick Oswiecimski is a Shelton resident.

 

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