My Neighbor Has a Chainsaw

What I learned when I knocked on the front door of the house around the corner

Jessica Zeek Krebsbach
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readAug 14, 2019

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Photo: Karrin Murphy/EyeEm/Getty Images

TThis is a story about how I met my neighbor. It happened on a Sunday in 2011. I had just bought the home of my dreams; an old house with hard wood floors in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.

I spent that first hot summer in my new house mostly out of town. At the time I was unsettled, unmarried and without children. During the week, I worked. On the weekends I would flee to higher elevations. My boyfriend and most of my friends still lived 6,000 feet above me in the High Sierra.

One sunny day in September, I was on my way home from another weekend away. The drive down the western slope of the Sierras is long, hot and hectic. Three blocks from my house, I stopped at the gas station for an ice cream sundae. It is the perfect ending to my weekend. I feel contented, spontaneous and free.

When I pull up to my house, my mood instantly sours. Splayed across the front yard is a giant limb of the front yard’s biggest tree. Doom has befallen my new home.

I exit the car still holding the ice cream wrapper in my right hand and survey the scene.

The limb has ripped off a piece of my gutter and smashed the corner of my HVAC unit.

I don’t see any major damage, but it is hard to tell. A proper assessment is difficult. There is tree everywhere: branches, leaves. I take huge steps through the foliage, feeling a strange sense of intimacy as I place my hands on something that was once too high to touch. I think about birds. I feel the leaves.

Aside from the fallen limb, there is something else new in my yard: a yellow piece of paper, sticking out from underneath my front mat. It is a note.

Hi,

MARK WILLIAMS

(Right around the corner

5020 Flower St.

Big Brown Ford Truck)

Chainsaw ready to help! [smiley face]

Sorry Boot Your Tree!

MW

He has given me his phone number. I feel nervous. It is 2:00 p.m. on a Sunday and the weather looks threatening. I must get this tree…

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Jessica Zeek Krebsbach
Human Parts

I write about marriage, motherhood, existence, nature, and other invisible things. Visit me on Instagram.com/@jzkrebsbach. Read more on jzkrebsbach.com.