Community Columns

Treemonsters came and ate my pistache -- and its shade

Some creatures just raided my front yard and ate most of my tree. I'm looking at what's left of my once-beautiful old pistache, wondering what sort of beasts they were. They came and went so fast I hardly saw what they looked like. The truck they drove had Trees-something on the side. I'm now pretty sure it said Treemonsters, Inc.

I called the Modesto Irrigation District to see if they knew anything about Treemonsters, Inc. The MID, after all, trims around their wires from time to time -- a necessary evil, because none of us wants power blackouts. The conversation went something like this:

"Yes," the man said, "they work for us. No, they are not characters from a Pixar movie," he assured me. If the brutes misbehaved, I was told, I should call the company for assistance.

"How," I asked, "can they help me? Can they put the limbs back on?"

"No," he said, "they cannot. Sorry."

"But," I wondered out loud, "aren't you responsible for their work?"

"Yes, but we cannot control those monsters," the man said, "so good luck, and by the way, are you interested in our energy saving program?"

I gazed out at the tree that once shaded my office. With a tinge of sadness in my voice, I said, "Yes, thank you, I'll be needing to save more energy now."

I wondered if these beasts ate trees in other communities, so I called the Turlock Irrigation District. The nice man told me that in Turlock, they advise the property owner before tree trimmers arrive and if the owner objects to having their tree mangled, they will try to accommodate them. This, I said, is a very reasonable policy.

My now V-shaped tree is on Virginia Avenue. Come see it, if you like. While there, hike along the new Virginia Corridor (thank you, city of Modesto and Modesto Rotarians, for this bike path. It's very nice). You may notice the forest of telephone poles along the path. These belong to the MID and they're not particularly attractive. Truthfully, they're ugly. Unfortunately, the MID chose not to contribute to the corridor by moving these wires underground. Sad, really, considering that the project cost more than $5 million. The cost to remove the poles? One hundred thousand dollars, according to a city official.

As you stroll along the path, you also may notice the tender saplings the city planted to each side. Pretty, aren't they? Yes, but look up and what do you see? Yes, MID lines. In a few years, the saplings will reach the wires.

What then?

Modesto's trees are a source of beauty and shade, an asset we can't afford to have mangled and mutilated. As I gaze out at what's left of my once-robust pistache, I'm wondering if I can get those tree-sitters from Berkeley to come over the next time I see Treemonsters, Inc., in the neighborhood. Excuse me, though, I've got to go turn up my MID-powered air conditioner. My shade is gone.

McGranahan has lived in Modesto for 20 years.