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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Yard Tension

It was a hot Sunday afternoon in late May this year.

I had just laid down for a long nap in our bedroom, which is off the back of the house. Earlier in the day, with a lump in my throat, I had asked S if he would cut down a year-old silver maple tree that was growing just behind the garage. The poor tree struggled for life all through the drought last summer and I had watered it by hand daily; but this year we discovered it was the type that dropped bucketful's of those "helicopters" all over the yard. The maple had to go.

As I drifted slowly off to sleep, I heard the soothing sounds of S puttering in the yard.

Two hours later, I woke with a start, listening carefully to a quiet rustling right under our bedroom window.

"What in the world could THAT be?" I thought to myself. The maple was on the other side of the house from our bedroom and I couldn't imagine what S was working on beneath our window.

I swung my legs out of bed and poked my head out the window; S was standing shirtless in the backyard, perspiring and yard-gloved with dirty sneakers. He beamed up at me.

"Hi honey! I cut down the maple tree!" He shouted up at me. "And I cut down the yucky bushes."

"The yucky bushes? What do you mean, 'the yucky bushes'?" My heart started to beat rapidly as I looked down at him in all his sweaty glory.

I ran out of the room, down the stairs, and out the back door of our house to where S was standing, smiling broadly.

"Wait, what bushes did you cut down, dear?" I asked, looking around frantically.

He took me by the hand and led me over to the wooden fence that stretches along the west side of our house. "Those bushes, they were yucky bushes!"

As I looked in utter horror at the desecration of five, FIVE, beautiful, mature, viburnums that used to grow happily all along our ugly, brown fence, my fingernails cut into my palms as I curled my hands into tight fists and began to shake. They would turn a breathtaking fiery orange in the fall, and bore bright red berries I'd include in flower arrangements the past summer.

"Oh honey, NO. No no no no no no NO NO NO NO. NO!" I gasped. "What in the world made you think they were yucky?"

He shrugged. "I dunno, they just were. I cut down the ones outside the dining room too."

In a panic I turned around and ran to the remains of the two, 15 foot high, gorgeous dogwoods that were planted outside our dining room windows. They were gone. Cut back to the ground.

I sank to my knees and wept. Now, just so you understand, we do not have children. We do not have a dog. We do not have pets of any kind, not even a fish. And I? I am a very tenderhearted person, eager to pour loving care into any of the formerly mentioned creatures. But, because we both work full time right now, no pets. Hence:

My YARD is my pet.

Last summer through the drought, I had watered these bushes hours and hours, moving the trickling hose day after day, carefully keeping the dogwoods alive and well. We would sit in the dining room eating dinner and I would think to myself, "Thank goodness for those bushes, they were planted perfectly to block the view of our neighbor's house and air conditioner."

Unfortunately, for me and for the bushes, I never said any of this ALOUD to my dear husband.

And now, they were gone. All gone.

I'll spare you the details of all that was said and done, but suffice to say, after a trip to Home Depot that evening where S saw how much two foot tall dogwoods and viburnums cost, there are now 25 charming little ivy plants growing happily along the fence. Planted and watered by S.

And the dogwoods? Two and a half months later, they're growing back slowly. Maybe five years from now they'll cover that ugly air conditioner again.

I've hidden the hedge trimmers. And the shears. For good.

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