He is an older gentleman, almost 80. He has a fondness for me which can be a little creepy. He asked me out for coffee once and I joined him- he told me all about his family and it was quite a story. He was respectful and didn't cross lines, He likes "my old fashioned ways" and I think he's a bit lonely. His stories are full of disfunction and drama and being a prominent family in the area, I think he felt safe to share stories with me, wanting them to fall on someone's ears before he can't speak them.
On this particular day, he mentioned to me that they were clearing some land on the next road over and they wanted to clear all the trees on my property because they had "reached their maturity" but he was afraid it would be ugly and I would want to move out. He explained that the company was cutting everything and that my idea to just remove the pine trees was not an option, that everything had to go, the company could not selectively remove trees. He said they were selling them for lumber. I told him I would miss my lilacs, that I love my dogwood, and the two huge tulip trees were my favorite on the property. I told him that I would miss having my hammock out and my daughter would miss her slack line. He left shaking his head.
I decided to go see what was happening on the next road over. I had heard some trees cracking and breaking on the hill, but just thought it was from the storm damage site where they store the collected debris from road and the like. What I saw was heartbreaking.
A few days later he came back and talked to my husband. He told him that when it cooled off they would be coming to cut our trees. My heart started racing, my eyes filled with tears. I think my husband was quite confused by my reaction, but the thought of my trees leaving really hurt me. This land has such a tragic history with Jordan Lake and imminent domain and families displaced, the land changed and rearranged to man's liking that it broke my heart that they would hurt this little patch that I love and was trying to heal. I really can feel the sadness around here and my little rented slice was neglected and unloved and I did a lot of work to bring it to the happy place it's in now. I removed trash and uncovered old flower beds covered by decades of pine needles exposing hyper dermic needles, pellet guns and other undesirable things. Yes, really.
I called the landlord and his wife answered. I asked her if Mr was around and explained that he had stopped by and talked to my husband about tree removal and that I had a few questions and asked her if I could ask her or have Mr come back by or call later. She told me that she would have Mr call my husband and that I should let the men deal with this. I started boiling with rage from being dismissed but kept my cool and got off the phone.
I decided to go talk to the neighbors. The landlords own a ton of property- 100s of acres. One road has small houses built from old tobacco barns which are very very cute, but now just have empty barren torn and chewed up land around them. I saw a young man watering his flowers and yard- obviously it was struggling due to the new sun exposure after spending it's life in a shaded moist forest. I told him I was a neighbor and that I really loved the little barn houses, but was curious what had happened to the trees. He told me that they "murdered them" but he was going to put in a garden and make the most of it. He said one neighbor was really upset but "what are you going to do?" I asked him about the neighbor and he didn't give me any info. I asked if he knew if anyone had contacted environmental groups and he just shrugged.
I decided to drive up the road on the other side of my house which is a trailer park. It has a very large hispanic community. The trailers were in such bad shape that the landlords gave ownership of the trailer over to the tenants for a super low price and then they just had to pay lot rent. The community has been helping each other to fix the trailers up but many didn't have steps at the doors and other things that I think would make these places unsafe to rent. I have distributed reclaimed food with FNB in the area and know one family well enough that I stopped by to ask if they had heard anything about their trees being removed. They said they hadn't heard anything and then things got weird. The lady was acting weird and had a strange look in her eye. She was desperate for $20 for whatever reason and I couldn't get out of there fast enough. I was very uncomfortable that she was trying to get me to buy things I didn't want and she really didn't seem like herself.
I feel so defeated. I can't understand needing to sell off these trees except for greed. I feel like my surrounding community is too desperate just trying to survive that they can't see why cutting down these trees is bad, it isn't even on their radar as a problem. My privilege provides me the ability to worry about the trees because I am not worrying about keeping the power on (although sometimes we do have that worry) or building steps to get into my house or repairing a year old leaky roof and getting rid of severe mold problems.
My biggest fear, knowing how greedy and how exploitive my landlords are, is that they will quickly sell the land off for fracking, and they are trying to get money for the trees to get all the profit they can. I am worried about how I can get my neighbors to see this problem and get them to stand up with me to fight back.