Friday, June 17, 2011


Our neighborhood of old houses with tall well-established trees is taking a hit this week. They are cutting down eight or twelve mature oak and pine trees at the top of Fisher Avenue, to accommodate the new Switch Facility for the Silver Line going out to Tysons.

The little grove of trees was the entrance to our neighborhood. It was pretty and peaceful and provided a sound barrier from route 66. And along with the trees came the illusion of distance. Our neighborhood was quiet, a little haven of split level houses and big back yards. Fisher Avenue wound off Great Falls Road to a different older kind of place.

The grove was the particular favorite of one neighborhood character – an elderly bearded gentleman, who often sat beneath the trees on a walking stick stool with his dog beside him. He lives across the street in a house with colored birdhouses strung in the trees and silver hubcaps mounted on the walls of his shed. He’s a charming throw back and we exchange pleasantries every Sunday when my neighbors and I walk that way with our dogs.

Community protesters put up signs: We love trees, Save these trees~ etc. One neighbor Ann, an architect heavily into green innovations– with solar panels on the roof of her house, kept us abreast of developments. She proposed that they put the switch facility on top of the existing building on the corner. Evidently they decided they couldn’t. Or wouldn’t.

When Ben, Elliot and I drove past yesterday morning we saw a gaping hole of bright white sky. It was a shock. Route 66 is so much closer now – all the noise, dust, and ugliness of it.

The men are shredding the trees. Their truck has a sign: Complete Tree Service. I said to Elliot, “This is the opposite of tree service. They are killing trees, not serving them.”

“That’s really corny, Mum,” he said.

“Sorry. But it’s how I feel.”

“Don’t you realize that the Silver Line is going to have a positive effect on the environment,” he said. “It’s going to reduce the traffic flow. It’s good for our community.”

“We’re taking one for the team, Manda,” Ben said.

But I was thinking much smaller: about that old gentleman who will no longer be able to sit under the trees. Where will he go now?

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