“Woodman, Spare That Tree!”

Touch not a single bough!” There’s been a lot of “tree work” (for which, read “tree destruction”) going on. I feared for our old house, built around a live oak. But it’s “only” another oak tree that’s been taken down on the property.

This is another house where we lived without air-conditioning. The landlord didn’t mind taking in two dogs and two cats. We didn’t mind seeing raccoons coming down the treetrunk at night and looking into the living room. The tree is glassed in on three of the four sides (the last side is a solid wall), and spreads its limbs over the entire roof of the house and beyond it. Among the places it shades is a little sleeping porch atop a carport.

There were many tenants before us and there’ve been many since, but this continues to be an outstandingly hospitable and distinctive Austin house. One of the predecessors left an upright piano in the carport out back. In good tune, despite the iffy shelter, the piano often gave forth music of the best quality in the middle of the night. From up in the sleeping porch, it was never possible to see who was playing so beautifully. Calls down never elicited a response.

One day the piano was mysteriously gone, so subsequent tenants never enjoyed that particular music. But the house is still there. And, even though its contemporary has been felled, our particular tree still stands. And long may it do so. In summers like these, Austin needs every single bit of its shade, every single one of its trees.

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