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Trees v. Power Lines
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A few days ago, when I drove by the sprawling trailer park I pass on the way to town, I noticed that all the trees lining the road there had been cut down. They'd been big, mature maples. For a week in the autumn they used to form a spectacular wall of foliage. Now there were only raw stumps and a few scattered, severed limbs. For the first time I could see the sagging power line, strung parallel to the road, that I guessed was the reason for the trees' demise.

Trees and power lines don't get along. Our electricity was off for ten hours Thanksgiving day after high winds knocked trees onto nearby lines.

Usually it's the trees that suffer. Driving in the countryside you can see where pruning crews have done their work -- weirdly disfigured trees with crowns sliced off, limbs truncated, central branches cut away to allow free passage for wires. It can't say the pruning isn't necesary. I had to remove branches from a sapling by the house a few months ago.

My grandfather always thought the crews were too diligent. He was fiercly protective of the huge maples in his front yard. They were forked at the bottom, the sort of trees some might say should never have been allowed to grow. Their diverging trunks, hollow with age and disease, were held together in places by steel rods.

When the Borough crews arrived to do their work my grandfather would stand out in the yard and give them hell. He contested every branch. The trees were allowed to retain their dignity.

That was over four decades ago. I doubt that today you'd find many people who'd side with a tree against a power line, or think they had the right to, or that the powers-that-be would respect such an individual.

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