Sunday, March 21, 2010

Starting Over and Berkvam's Barnyard

I'm an animal lover—always have been, going back to 4th grade when I was one of two students chosen at year's end to give a new home to one of two lab rats that resided in an aquarium on the back counter of our classroom. My parents were always good about indulging in this part of me. On more than one occasion my mom would find snakes or skinks or whatever else had gotten loose in our home and yell for me to come to catch them. One autumn when I was maybe ten or eleven, I collected two garbage bags full of acorns from our yard and stored them in my bedroom closet intent on feeding squirrels during the winter. My mom went into my room one day before the snows ever came to find maggots everywhere on the floor coming from the bags of acorns. How was I to know?

Our doorbell rang last Saturday and it was a young guy inquiring if we wanted any of our trees trimmed along the side of our house. I'd last had it done seven or eight years ago and I was unimpressed with the job they did for the money I paid them. I wasn't interested in repeating that scenario again but Josh caught me in a weak moment and I told him I'd meet him out by the side of our home to hear his pitch.

He had big plans for trimming our two large red oaks and clearing the rest of what remained including some buckthorn, all for $1000. I really hadn't planned on parting with that sort of cash so I countered with a plan to only trim the oaks and remove an elm that was leaning and lacked shape for $400. We ended up settling on the job for $500 and although I knew I was likely paying more than I should, I was fine with our agreement. They were working on a neighbor's yard a few houses up the street so I wandered over to have a look at their operation. I had no idea what to look for.

They arrived late the next morning, much later than they said they'd be and proceeded to give me the hard sell on the full job they'd try to sell me on the previous day. The owner of the company took me aside and explained that the poplar tree was nearing its life expectancy and another tree looked to have been hit by lightning. Yeah, I could see all that but I had no intention of parting with $1000. A few counter-offers later and we'd come to an agreement on the full deal.

I captured some of the job for YouTube then headed off to work while withholding payment until I could see it the next day.

They did everything we asked them to do but the starkness of what was left behind really saddened both Tammy and me. Our wild area between the houses that served as a nice habitat for squirrels and birds is all but gone except for the two oak trees.
I'm sure birds will still come to our feeders but we'll miss watching the squirrels chase each other through the highways of limbs that once connecting the trees that are no longer.

Before and after, before and after, before and after.

I immediately began thinking of ways to restore the area, understanding that it's going to take years before it will ever be as inviting a place for small wildlife as it was just one short week ago. I looked out the window yesterday morning to see that the two albino squirrels are still in the area but it's not the same.

I didn't think I was going to have any projects to do this year but I was wrong.

Rachel had a bunch of friends over to work on their outfits for the Minnesota girls highschool basketball championship game that Lakeville North was a part of at Target Center in Minneapolis last night. The team is coached by Andy Berkvam and the kids were dressing up as farm animals to be a part of "Berkvam's Barnyard". I have no idea if it's a new thing or tradition—this was the first I'd heard of it.

I got a text from Rachel last night while she was at the game to tell me that she was on TV. I wasn't surprised. I tuned in and sure enough, she and her friends were getting quite a bit of exposure with their costumes. I was glad I'd remembered to record it for her. She said they were disappointed because they'd spent hours working on a huge banner they were going to unroll in front of their group but security took it from them before they could use it. They pleaded with security to allow them to tear it into smaller sections but they wouldn't even allow that. Their disappointment couldn't have lasted too long based on the fun they appeared to be having.

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