We were able to talk with our neighbor lady yesterday afternoon. She definitely thought she was doing us a favor by removing the red pine. Evidently, 30+ years ago her late husband mistakenly planted the tree on what was to become our property, hence she felt she had the right to remove it. We explained to her trees are pretty important to us and pointed out the fact we have planted a number of them in our yard. (Side note: Our son Will did some Internet searching and calculated the amount of carbon a tree that size would have removed in its lifetime - it was substantial. I was very pleased that he took it upon himself to find that information and was able to put the loss of the tree in a more global perspective.) Our neighbor has offered to buy a tree at the nursery to replace the lost red pine which is nice. Still, it is disturbing that someone felt they had the right to kill a 30+ year old tree that wasn't on their property. Honestly, right now I'm struggling with the concept of "Love they Neighbor".
The other interesting angle to this has been the response of the tree service that did the removal. The owner is a colleague of sorts of my wife's in the local school district. When she told him what had happened - it was actually his sons that cut the tree down - he was mortified and very apologetic. He's also offered to do what he can to rectify the situation.
The most troubling aspect of this entire situation is that no matter what we do, we loose. We can plant a new tree to replace the lost one. We can take some money from the tree service. Regardless of what we do, we're not likely to every see a new tree mature to the level that the one we lost had. It bothers me that people continually fail to think about the repercussions their actions might have in the future.
Whatever we do, we also must take into consideration that we'll probably be living next to this woman for a number of years to come. We certainly don't want this to turn into a feud. So, we'll weigh our options and figure out what will hopefully be a resolution that is acceptable for everyone involved. That's probably the best we can do.