Thursday, June 28

Peeking Through

I had intentions to post about something else entirely today.

But I am annoyed.

And frustrated.

The noise started early this morning, maybe 7:00 a.m., with an incessant whine of machinery. Large saws revving and humming; shouts of workers barking orders to one another; scraping noises--akin to fingernails on chalkboard--as equipment was dragged from spot to spot emanating from the space behind my house.
That was the annoying part.

The frustration began when I looked out my back window and saw what all the noise was about.
Ack! They were cutting down trees!

Our row of houses sits parallel to a long row of flats, 5 stories high. Between the cinder block wall of our back garden and the apartment building there is some garden space. Perhaps 50' of area separates us, which until today was planted in towering trees. Beautiful tall trunks, with massively large branches full of brilliant green foliage spilling out in multiple directions. Trees that shaded my yard and granted us a little bit of privacy

Living here, I have grown accustomed to the idea that the residents of floor 5 in that adjacent building have a bird's eye view into our garden. Not that there is much to see. Okay, yes, on occasion there is a diaper-less preschooler strutting his stuff in the yard, digging in the dirt and splashing in his water box. More often though, it is my daughter or I snuggled into the plastic chaise, soaking up sunrays and ingesting a book. As a family, we love to have dinner in the back if the sun is shining. I like to sit at the teak wood table with a morning cup of coffee; an afternoon glass of wine, even. I like believing I am alone out there. It has been a cozy haven and having those trees in the background was a crucial bit of that gezellig feeling.

Now they are gone.

Relentlessly felled and cut into manageable pieces, then dragged away.

I am frustrated. In my gut is stewing a deep disconcertion over the idea that residents of floors 2, 3, and 4 have joined the ranks of those who can see into my yard.

Frustrated. Annoyed. More than a little sad to see the trees go.

One of the crowning points of life in The Hague is the wooded areas and the tree lined streets. It is a gorgeous sea of green in this city when the spring sun sends its warmth to the branches and coaxes new leaves from winter gray branches.

In our front garden is a young oak tree. I have enjoyed every stage from bud to leaf throughout the spring. Watching that new life blossom is inspiration beyond words for me. With each unfolding leaf, I felt that I was unfolding too. Shedding the bark-like protection of winter and opening my whole soul to the sun and the possibilities of summer.

I welcome summer in ways that are difficult for me to divulge fully. I love the summer. I want the summer. I need the summer. Every moment I can get. Every drop of sunshine it brings.
I wanted to do all that needing and wanting and loving, privately in my back yard.

However, that is not my lot.

A gaping hole in the green with a view of brick building and rows of windows will be my companion this summer.

Undaunted, I will still be there, sopping up each and every moment of sunshine that comes our way this season.

Moreover, I will raise my glass--Cola Light with ice--to peering eyes and drink to the memory of my trees.

Where the trees used to be.


  1. Oh, what a sad event. Maybe the trees were ill, but I doubt it very much.

  2. Thank you Wieneke.
    I don't think they were sick either, but I am sick over the removal. It will be interesting to see what they will do with that space now.

  3. I hope something new in the space will cheer you and give you peaceful moments.

  4. y-sky-
    Welcome, and thanks for the well wishes. I appreciate that. Love your "name" by the way. Very wise.

  5. Things gotta change, sweetie. Maybe it't time to move into the fall of your life. Just be sure that by the time you get to winter, it doesn't become the winter of your discontent! ;)

  6. Do you know why they cut them down? Was it because your back yard has become THE visual destination for the folks on the other floors behind you? Maybe you've used up your allotment of shade for the summer? Regardless of the reason, it sucks!

  7. Oh, that would make me so, so sad. I can only imagine how much you'll miss them.

  8. Oh, how I miss Coke Light!! What a delicious concoction that we are not privy to in the US.

    I'm sorry for you and your tress. I would be annoyed as well.

  9. How awful. I always mourn the loss of perfectly good trees. When will people realize that this earth actually needs them?

  10. ct-
    hehe. You are a clever girl.

    Didn't think about that, but I am gonna go with that first thing. Trust me, everybody wants to lay eyes on this hot mama!

    Yes, I don't think I realized just how much I loved them until someone came and took them away from me!

    Hey! Welcome. Nice of you to stop by. Yup, I love that coke light. I should love it less, but I don't.

    Exactly! And this is not a land where there is an overabundance by any stretch, so why chop them down? I remember thinking the same thing last year watching roadworks go through an area and they just cleaned out these magnificent trees to lay road. A few yards difference (to my eye) and they could have accomplished the same thru-way but spared the trees. I was shocked. And bewildered.

  11. Hi Jenn,
    I know how you feel, where we live they are over the next 10 years going to build 3000 new houses and create a new Town. All around us the trees were removed in antisipation of this, it has changed the whole area and looks like a war zone, lickily enough we have a green zone infront of our house that blocks of the main road but it is still awful.
    I know how you must feel when their is nothing wrong with the trees and doing it without informing you.
    It is really sad when you loose your little peice of privacy.

    Cheers Mark

  12. mark-
    I really appreciate that and I commiserate with you your loss of the trees. I am not sure if it's "progress" when we are removing such important pieces of life from our landscape. Surely there must be a better way.

  13. I am sorry to hear that! Why did they cut them down?

  14. Dear Jenn, (It's Becca in Holland, ...check out my new "handle"!) Check with your Dutch neighbors about what is being planned. You know the Dutch have multiple regulations for everything, and usually they have to cut down trees that are over a certain age and/or height to prevent their potentially being dangerous in the severe wind storms that rage through periodically. But they are then also obligated to replant within a certain period of time. Unless there is some sort of building being planned, or the laying of cables or new sewer lines, you should hear about when the new trees will come in. Won't do you much good this summer, but does give hope for next year! Sorry about your disappointment dear!

  15. alex-
    I wish I knew!

    sweet f.a.-
    Love the new handle, and thanks for the information on the why's and wherefore's of it all. I do hope that new trees go in. And seriously if it's all a height regulation, why can't they just trim? No matter, you can expect to see me in your backyard this summer where there are trees abundant! (That is if we get any summer this summer!)

  16. That's terrible! Trees add so much to an area.
    Blogrolled you!

  17. I wonder what reason they had to cut down the trees. I just don't want to see any more trees destroyed in the name of progress. I hope you adapt quick to be without them.

  18. You mean there was no public notice that the trees were being cut down? No letters sent to your house? No public hearing? Huh?

    That doesn't seem very Dutch to me.

  19. Oh I am so sorry your trees are gone. Being a tree lover I get so upset when they get cut down for no apparent reason. Trees are a living history...

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  21. yes - wonder why they cut them down.

    Maybe you'll make friends with your newly visible neighbours? If they can see you surely you can see them right back?

  22. How dismaying! We're trying to grow some here if it's any karmic consolation. I liked Jami's comment about your yard being the new desired visual destination, and I've got to agree with everyone else who said this: no notice? doesn't sound very Dutch to me...

  23. Oh, how sad. And good for you that you're not letting that keep you from your back yard!

  24. Oh, Jenn. How sad. You know, my mother and I were talking just this evening about how we felt we needed more trees on our property. We're hoping to plant some soon. I will be sure to plant one for you.

    By the way, you are a brilliant writer, woman!