For four years, I sought trees to replace the deceased ones in the 1600 block of Lamont in Mount Pleasant. Some had expired from ailments that doom so many city elms, a fact of life resolutely ignored as elms are blissfully replanted. Some had fallen to drunken Buicks. The block needed leaves to cover its nakedness.

At last, the truck came. Trees went into empty spots along the sidewalk, each anchored securely by three large stakes solidly hammered into the ground. More Godforsaken elms, but they were welcome. I walked out to greet and thank the friendly planters. Great guys. The next morning, I carried buckets of water to the new trees. Two days later, the city truck returned. The new trees were uprooted, tossed in the truck. Stunned, I managed to ask, "Why?" A man looked at his sheet. "A contractor is supposed to plant these trees." The next week, a contractor planted trees. His were infested with some parasite. Though I picked them as clean as I could and schlepped water all summer, half died. Despite a guarantee, the contractor never returned. Money does grow on trees.

But not all trees. There are several thousand dead ones in the city, and no funds to remove them. One night, in a light rain, a friend and I walked from a restaurant. A mammoth tree fell, silently. Until it hit, one step behind us, crushing two cars with a crack like a rifle.