Living Amidst the Trees

Once you venture outside the Pacific NW, it really becomes apparent how green it is here. I travelled to Arizona last year and was amazed by the flat, brownness of it all.

Bellevue has an abundance of green, lots of which is in the form of towering pine trees. Providing cool shade in the summer and “Christmas tree smell” in the winter, the tall evergreens make a beautiful backdrop for life on the East side. But we sometimes pay a price for that beauty when storms roll in.

My house is surrounded by tall trees, most of which are not on my property. Our emergency plan includes packing the family up and staying at a nearby pet-friendly motel if wind speeds reach 40 mph or above. When the big storm blew in last month, we had the opportunity to act on our emergency plan. Even though I had just had sinus surgery that morning, we got ourselves and the pups together and left. While the winds howled and the rain fell, we cozied up in our little room, wondering what was happening at home.

The next morning, our friendly neighbor across the cul de sac called to break the news: two trees fell on our property. One tree landed next to the house, the other landed right on top of it. A branch came through in the kitchen, one exploded the glass out of a skylight in the hallway, and the roof was battered underneath the tree.


When we got home, we found a couple of our wonderful neighbors on our roof, tarping and fixing things so that water wouldn’t get in. The site of a gigantic pine tree resting on our house, branches poking in, gave me chills.


We weren’t the only ones dealing with fallen trees–it seemed that at least one quarter to one third of the homes in our neighborhood had also been affected. Horizontal trees were everywhere, resting on houses and blocking streets. It was scary but we were thankful that no one was hurt (and that we weren’t home when it happened!).


Whether it’s clearing out pine needles from the gutters or evacuating during potent storms, life amidst the trees definitely has its ups and downs.

  • Bahn

    Growing up in the NW, I felt the same way when I spent 7 years of my life in the Bay Area. Outside the coastal areas, it’s mostly brown and depressing. Even when there is green, the trees struggle to maintain the color. It seems sun is more important than green and most people are willing to pay for it.

    I’m really sorry about your house…

  • Simon

    I don’t get this blog at all. Some of the postings are reviews of houses, but lately most seem to be personal experiences — parties you’ve attended with people nobody but you will ever meet, fixups around your houses, and problems you’re having. Are you trying to explain how to buy a house in Seattle or are you all just collecting salaries for writing about the latest episode of sweeping your own driveways?

    I’m really sorry about your house, Jessi, but unless your house is for sale, why do I care?

  • Jessi

    Thanks, Bahn. Now the fun of home repairs begins. :-)

  • Jessi

    Our local blogs are meant to review homes for sale as well as talk about life in the neighborhoods that we cover—information and opinions for someone who might be considering a move to our neighborhoods. When I move, I like to do as much research as possible, getting to know not only the houses but what the positives and negatives are about a particular location. As a matter of fact, I wish I had a heads up about the ‘joys’ of scooping pine needles out of a gutter before buying my home. But still…gotta love those beautiful trees.

  • Eric

    Hey, I love the blog — keep it up.

    But to quibble: I don’t think those are not pine trees in your photo (and there aren’t any native pine trees in Bellevue). They’re Douglas firs. They’re in the same family as pines, but Doug firs are of the genus Pseudotsuga, not Pinus. There’s a big difference, at least for plant geeks.

  • Jessi

    Aha, Douglas firs! Thanks for the complement and correction, Eric. And today I finally learned the name of those beautifully gnarled, sculptural, peeling-bark trees (Madrona), after seeing some of them knocked down from the storm. This is a good botany day for me.

  • Amy Helen Johnson