A year ago the purchasers of a building lot in our neighborhood began having it cleared: a massive 953 Caterpillar, various styled trucks, men with chainsaws, and other equipment for destruction invaded our street. Soon, trucks began leaving our neighborhood carrying pine logs to the sawmill or entire root balls of sixty-year-old long-leaf pines to the county landfill. Rumbling on their errand, each truck would return later the same day or the next morning for another load. Meanwhile the 953 continued to push over every pine tree and level the lot for the planned house. Soon, that work was completed, and the builder arrived to make his contribution to the now neutered lot of sunbaked, Iredell County red clay. But this postage stamp of red soil was valued because it had some Lake Norman shoreline and a dock, and, thus, life would be good as the owners have moved into their planned house, and a landscaper is busy planting a variety of plants on the lot where just a year ago majestic pine trees grew.
I have watched this process with interest because it is near our home. (I will accept that I am even nosey). I appreciate the need to selectively clear land for a house, its septic system, and other items such as a drive. I know that if owners buy a lot, it is theirs to do as they desire. This tiny lot sold for over 400 thousand dollars, so if you follow the philosophy that if you buy it, you have certain rights, then that price carries many “rights”. So be it, but just because the owners can or could does not necessarily mean they should.
It appears, by their spending habits that I have witnessed, the owners have ample funds to do as they wish. But does a deep pocket give them or any of us the right to do as we wish? Once again, just because they could afford over $10,000 to clear the lot, should they have wiped it clean of all vegetation that was not in the no cut zone near the lake. But they did, and now are paying a company to re-forest the lot with shrubs and trees. And since the lot has been so razed, they are planting many trees such as magnolias and evergreens in order to give the lot some landscaped appearance. But, as all too often happens, the small trees are being planted too close together, oblivious to the fact that , in a few years, they will have grown larger, becoming a hinderance to each other’s growth. Money spent with no or little thought of what will be in a few years has created a future of unattractiveness.
These owners are like so many folks in our culture: What I want, I want now and can pay for it. So, they level a lot, build a house, and in order to give the lot a look of maturity, they overplant in the thought of giving their new home a “settled look.” But had the owners thought more, they may have seen that they need not have removed every stately pine tree but selectively removed the ones that were in the path of their house. I offer that a few sixty-year old pine trees add natural beauty and monetary value to any house. It is, in my view, unfortunate that the owners did not consider other ways to achieve their end than a modern slash and burn approach.
So, a year later the owners have a new house with an overly landscaped lot that will in a few years require removal of trees and shrubs planted too close to the house or too close together. Once again, the lot will be razed to satisfy a man and woman’s ego or convenience or both. But they are not alone in a world community that ignores its responsibilities while flaunting its privilege. Gerard Manley Hopkins warned us of this in his poem Binsey Poplars, and the poem’s lesson is evident here on Lake Norman.