First They Came For the Trees and I Said Nothing Because I Was Not a Tree

I looked out the window this morning and saw this funny yellow vehicle out by my trees. And I said, huh, I wonder what that funny yellow vehicle is doing out by the trees. And then fifteen minutes later —

ZOMG the yellow vehicle ate all the trees. It was horrible! I tried to imagine what offense the trees had given to merit such a punishment — producing oxygen without a license? Flagrant exhibition of chlorophyll? — but I came up with none. And then I remembered my wife had called these guys to come take out the pines because they were largely dead and/or dying and at this point were mostly just upright kindling. Therefore, this wasn’t murder, just a decent burial.

Or so I tell myself, so in my mind I don’t have to hear the awful screaming of the pines.

54 Comments on “First They Came For the Trees and I Said Nothing Because I Was Not a Tree”

  1. Probably (foolishly) cutting them down because they are either diseased or the city is afraid they will become diseased…

  2. “And the trees were all kept equal, by hatchet, axe, and saw” That was the first thing that popped into my head when I read this.

  3. Are you going to chop them up and set them on fire? My parents got rid of some sick trees and made a big fire pit. LOTS OF FUN. fwoosh

  4. Are you pining for the pines?

    Sorry, I tried to keep from typing it, but it just took over my brain.

    Also, John @ #3 led to a narrowly avoided spit take

  5. The first thing I thought of was the trees being ripped up by Orcs in the Lord of the Rings. “There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of men for this treachery. “

  6. Did you keep the wood for the fireplace this winter? Cause it’s supposed to be a doozy of a cold one.

  7. Look on the positive side, now you have an unobstructed view for the coming Zombie Apocalypse. Now where did I put my lazer range finder?

  8. Looks like the yellow truck includes a tree-grinding machine, so probably there’s no burnable wood left. What a waste.

  9. “If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.” – Jack Handey

  10. Clearing fields of fire is the approved first step in fortifying your compound against zombies.

  11. Hello Mr. Scalzi. This is the first time I have chimed in about anything. In reference to the pictures of your trees, they didn’t look “dead or dying” to me. Was just wondering if they got the wrong the trees, for they still look green to me.

  12. Parts were still green, but most of the branches on those tree were dead, which you would have seen up close.


    That was for branches. We have a fair amount of wood for burning.

  13. The great thing about tree ghosts is that if you have wooden doors, they’re too outraged to knock on your door at Halloween to trick or treat.

  14. Johnny@ #2….Me Too! John…Are you going to plant new trees to replace those?

  15. It is the normal growth pattern in pine trees for lower branches to die off as the tree ages.

    If you still want a screen of evergreens there, you might consider some variety of spruce instead. They typically retain their lower branches.

  16. Pine will line your chimneys with flammable creosote, but you probably know that and you are saving it for a firepit?

  17. In general, I think pines make a lousy yard tree anyway. As Adam #22 said, the lower branches die and gradually fall off, and the falling needles kill everything underneath, making kind of an ugly place that nothing can be done with. And if you try to sit under them for shade, they drop pitch on you.

    I agree that spruce or cedar make much nicer screening trees, and some kind of deciduous tree makes for better shade or decorative trees.

  18. “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.”

    I guess we’ll never know now, will we?

  19. We recently took down 15 tall ( 100’+) firs that were within striking distance of the house. We lose one every couple years in the winter storms.

    There was no yellow truck, however. There was, well, me – with some coerced help from my son. The stumps were the hardest part…

  20. ~eyebrow raised~ Someone had the the bad taste to say “Fjording for the Pines”. If you are gonna play on Monty then at least state it as stated: “Pining for the fjords”. After all, you never know where the mulch will end up… it could be shipped to the fjords as some kinda mulch to abate erosion or such. heh. ;-)

  21. Reminds me of when we lived in South Florida and an uninvited truck pulled up with men from the Florida Citrus Commission who proceeded to cut down my grapefruit tree. Was it canker or competition they were destroying?

  22. if you have good drainage in that spot, i vote for stella sweet cherry trees. beautiful blooms, yummy chow, self-pollinating.

    put an almond or a plum tree in there too, you’ll swoon all spring :-)

  23. It ate them. It ate them with fava beans and a nice chianti. Fvfvfvvfvfvvfvfvvfvfvvfvfvfvvfvf.

  24. Yellow.

    You know. someone else woke up to see something yellow out his window and didn’t at first know what it was. That day didn’t turn out so good for him, ending in Vogon poetry and being vented into space and all.

  25. If you had video of their tree-chipper devouring the trees whole, you could make yet another video for the “Nom Nom Nom” song.

    I guess I’m just as happy you don’t have video of that.

  26. Pines are not very pretty trees. But they are prettier than the neighbour’s yard.
    I’d have planted some new trees and cut the pines much later, but that is a product of many years of (mostly unsuccessfully) countering my father’s attempts to cut down any tree which offends him in any way.

  27. I don’t mean to be an annoying censor or be the offensive word police, but I thought that I would share what I felt. I was a little shocked when I saw this post’s title: I think it is a little insensitive to use that quote (the title having to do with the holocaust) for the humorous issue of the trees.

  28. Pines are OK tress, but usually dropped in as a quick landscaping fix; I prefer deciduous trees. We put in a willow oak, a cherry tree, and three serviceberry trees in the last 8 months.

    You don’t need to clear all the trees for a proper field of fire, BTW, just undergrowth fro visibility. Trees can actually channel the undead into a beaten zone for optimum kill ratios.

  29. Let’s face it, trees can be weeds, as per the common definition: “Weed — any plant growing where you don’t want it to grow”.

    Mind you, I _like_ trees, and during 20 years of working at the L.A. County Arboretum was responsible for starting many thousands of them from seeds or cuttings. If it were up to me (which it isn’t, of course) I’d plant some to replace these — maybe a small grove of black Walnut, pruned so they’d produce good lumber in a hundred or so years.

  30. It must be an epidemic. I was awakened this morning to the tree people taking down down all three of my neighbour’s oaks. Fewer leaves for me to rake this fall but, alas, more sunlight on my other neighbour’s house.

  31. True story. My ex-wife’s paternal grandparents had a lot of kids – – a dozen or so – – and to commemorate the birth of each, a pine tree was planted at the edge of the family land. As happens in a large family, some of the children died before living a full lifespan – – and in several cases, the corresponding pine tree planted to commemorate their birth also died. It’s easy to make a tree die, of course, but barring human intervention, it’s an interesting set of coincidences.

  32. I’m just glad that the trees DON’T exact revenge. What if the output of that yellow brute found its way to a paper mill and bits of pine branches ended up in the pages of your next novel’s first printing?
    *wavy lines*
    Customer espies new Scalzi novel.
    Customer reads blurb, nods, reads a couple pages, flips forward…
    Customer stops at page which appears curiously mottled; growing look of shock. PULL IN to see that discoloration is not random, but a message:
    PULL BACK as book falls to floor, customer flees in panic.
    *wavy lines*

  33. Anarra: Around here (California’s Central Valley), oaks are protected species. Native oaks that get above a certain diameter must be kept, or if you’re a developer, there’s serious mitigation to be provided (though not enough, IMO, when the oak in question is above the century mark.) So if you see a private owner having them removed, they’re invariably diseased.

    On that note, there are still four trees on my not-too-large property (a bit less than a quarter acre) that have to be removed. People ask why, even though one of them is largely on the ground, one is leaning, one has sent its canopy well over the house (which means its roots are undermining the foundations), and one is of a species far too large for the tiny space in between houses. Moreover, the first three, which average about forty feet in height (well, the one that is largely on the ground, not so much), are spaced about ten feet apart and about four feet from the sound wall… which has a row of trees on the other side of it. There’s some landscapers I’d like to smack for those decisions*.

    *As a rough guide, the root spread of a tree is a bit wider than its canopy, and is about as wide as the tree is tall. Though there are exceptions—the quarter-mile run of redwood roots being one—this is a good guide to how to plant your trees. If they’re going to be forty feet tall, five to ten feet from other trees is too darned close. No wonder they’re unhealthy.