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Trees
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The Spectator
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 by Laramie Boyd
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C
        When my wife and I moved from Glendale to Palm Desert in 1997, we chose to buy where the homes were surrounded by green lawns and tall trees in full bloom that added shade and beauty to the street. The trees were Jacaranda. The beautiful blue petals that fell to the ground were often tracked into the house, but the beauty of the canopy covering our street was well worth the clean up job that lasted only a few days. People bought homes on this street because of the trees. People took long walks on this street just to admire the trees. People rented homes on this street simply because of the trees, for what they added to the peace and serenity of the homes. And for the shade during the long hot summers.
        And now, the trees are gone. People don't walk here anymore. People say they won't buy on this street. People won't rent on this street again. The landscape of the desert that has been planted in place of the trees just isn't the same. Where there was once full, green grass lawns, there is now decomposed granite. Where there was once row on row of pansies, petunias, and colorful ground cover, now there is the DG, decomposed granite. All the while the desert landscaping was being put into place, a member of the Homeowners Association Board, the group that elected to remove the Jacarandas, drove around in a golf cart asking any homeowners who happened to be in their yards, "What kind of cactus would you like?" And of course the answer was always, "I don't want cactus, I want my trees back, and my lawns, and my shade." These answers fell on deaf ears. The one time "tree huggers" had lost their battle. The expense of the changeover to drip irrigation on the new desert plants, and using less water on the green grass, won out over the sparing of the trees in this ecological standoff.
        So who wins? It will take years, if ever, to save enough on the water bill of the Association to cover the cost of the uprooting of the trees and lawns, of hauling the debris away, and planting and installing the water system that feeds the new desert flora with a drip system, one drop at a time. The beauty of the street is gone. The shade from the trees is gone. In their place is a stark, glaring sunlight, unobstructed and relentless, beating down on the homes and surrounding area. Even the rare, cooling breezes that the foliage once seemed to support are gone. And the life-giving oxygen they produced will never be replaced.
        The water bill of the Association will surely decrease, but the tempers of the homeowners on this street have gone up, but to no avail. It's done. And I miss the trees. I never stopped to think what a difference they would make if they weren't there. "Save Your Forests" has some meaning to me now, so let's guard our trees. But, they say "You never miss the water 'til the well runs dry." Let's hope that won't happen here in the desert, beautiful Palm Desert, trees or no trees.