35-year-old pine tree comes down

The 98-foot-high pine tree (30 meters) in our garden was chopped down today after my mother decided it had become a danger to us and our neighbors.
More than 30-years-old, our pine tree towered above us with its many branches and pine cones, that used to fall on our grounds and also on our neighbor’s property. We often have small, localized wind storms that knock over many trees in Brasilia, so there was the real danger of this tree being blown over, or at the very least losing some large branches in strong winds.
Tiao, the man we hired to cut it down, first lopped off the top 20-feet. Once that was done, he made a large cut near the base of the tree. Ropes were attached to the tree in order to pull it down in the right direction. The first round of tugging on the tree by three men made the tree sway but not come down. It took the added strength of our maid Silvania and another guy to finally bring the tree down. I’ll miss the tree and the pretty cones it produced.

The wonderful ipes of Brasilia


THE IPE trees of Brasilia are in full bloom despite the severe dryness. A native tree of the cerrado region of Brazil, these trees lose all of their leaves as winter approaches and then have flowers that explode in bursts of bright yellow. It’s actually quite amazing and wonderful to behold.

I recently took a picture with my cell phone (hence the low quality) of a small ipe tree in bloom near my house when I was out walking. I will try to take more pictures of the much bigger trees and post them here soon.

Micro-Storm Knocks Over 50 Trees in Brasilia!


COMING home Friday afternoon from having my dentist finishing pulling the last roots from one of my teeth undergoing a root canal treatment, I noticed that the cars coming towards us on the two-lane road were flashing their headlights at us.

“There must be something up ahead,” said my jovial taxi driver.

I just mumbled “yes, there must be,” as my mouth was still numb from the anesthetic and I had finally, or so I thought, been able to send money to my partner in the Philippines after a failed attempt the day before.

“Must be an accident up ahead,” I said to myself. Outside it was raining and gray clouds darkened the afternoon sky.

Suddenly we saw why those cars had been flashing us so urgently. There in front of us was a huge eucalyptus tree lying across the road and completely blocking it. Its earth covered roots stuck in the air, testament to the force of the wind that blown it over.

“No problem, we’ll just drive on the grass around it,” said my driver.

So off we went, swerving to the right and driving around the giant felled tree. But then we saw that more uprooted trees were lying across the road! It was a veritable barrage of fallen wood.

I lost count at 15 trees and with more skillful off-road driving we finally arrived at the turn-off leading to my street.

Later I learned that a micro-storm had hit the area I live in just 20 minutes before I arrived, the strong gusts of wind and lightning responsible for all of the fallen trees that snapped power lines, cutting electricity to our whole area.

The Correio Brasiliense newspaper later reported that 50 trees had been knocked over, and 30 power posts overturned. My mother tells me that they were part of the first trees planted in Brasilia around 50 years ago when the city was first being built. The dry-season of the cerrado here, meant that only small, gnarly trees were to be found here originally. Eucalyptus trees were chosen because they grow so tall and quickly. Now, with many of them having been hollowed out by voracious termites, they are potentially deadly weapons waiting to come crashing down on roads and houses at the slightest provocation. Luckily this time no one was crushed in their car by a falling eucalyptus!

The power finally went on again at 6:45 p.m., just in time for us to have missed the first three-quarters of the last episode of the Negocio da China telenovela.

We thought we were safe after that, but suffered another power cut on Saturday when the electricity went out at 3 p.m. and only came back on after 8 p.m.

As for the remittance I had sent to the Philippines, my friend Marvin’s distraught phone call woke me up on Saturday morning at 1 a.m. to tell me that the Brazilian bank, Banco Rendimento, had forgotten to put his family name on the remittance, which meant he couldn’t get the money!

For me it was further proof of the general incompetence of Brazilian banks. Since it’s the weekend, I have to wait until Monday until I can speak to someone at the bank to get their mistake rectified.

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