The neighbor felled three large birch trees on the vacant property he owns next to ours. Says he’s going to build a new house, needs to clear the lot. Paved paradise, and put up a parking lot. I watched him cut into those trees with the chainsaw. Hot knife thru butter captures it. Less than ten minutes and all three of them were down, dead. Every one of them must’ve been thirty feet or better, and just beginning to bud, to send out new branches, a further reach for the sky. They lain on the ground overnight, still, the great lumbering giants they were. The stories their rings could tell, all the years they’ve grown up here.

Twenty-three years ago when I first moved to Alaska I moved into a house a few blocks from here. Those birch trees were youngins. Nobody thought to bother ’em back then. And now they’re in the way. Or they were in the way.

There’s nothing the least bit solemn about the buzz of a chainsaw, is there? Seems disrespectful somehow.

Yet, once upon a time our lot needed to be cleared of nuisance too. At least in an effort to replenish, we’ve been replanting trees every year since we returned in ’09. Most have made it, some haven’t. That’s the way things go.