It started with the tree.
The mimosa tree, planted the first spring I lived in this house, had become a thing of beauty loved by myself and all of the neighbors. It grew with a fairly short main trunk which divided into two major branches, holding its broad umbrella canopy partly over my back yard and partly over my right-hand neighbors’ yard – one limb each. They have a two-story house, and very much enjoyed looking out of their upper windows onto its smoky pink blossoms. I spent a lot of time watching the scrappy little hummingbirds chase each other around while arguing over the best flowers. I loved the way all of its leaves closed up after dark. On warm summer evenings, I always made sure to tell it good night. It was always the last thing to wake up in the spring, and the last to go to sleep in the fall.
This year, right before Thanksgiving (that’s at the end of November for you non-USA readers), we had several days of high winds and pounding rain and general icky weather. But the house and the yard held up quite nicely and life went on.
One day, I was minding my own business when I heard a loud creeeeeeek craaaaaaack BANG! [house shake] whummmmp sound of pattering cat feet high-tailing it to parts unknown
What are you guys doing? I said as I strode purposefully down the hall. Because Moo Cow and Captain Kidd had acted guilty, so I was immediately suspicious. But as I wandered through the house, nothing seemed amiss. I looked out the front window. Everything looked OK. I looked out the back door.
My beautiful, beloved mimosa had split in two, right down the trunk. Sadly I went outside to survey the damage. The limb overhanging the neighbors’ yard still stood. The part overhanging my grape arbor was down. But, thoughtfully, it had missed every major structure in the yard, including the house and back fence. My little backyard head sculpture (named Todd the weather god long ago by #1 Son) sat sadly amongst the litter of branches and seed pods, with one grape leaf clinging forlornly to its forehead. The only bit of damage appeared to be the last 2×4 slat on the arbor, which had been knocked off but not broken, and possibly a minor limb or two on the mini cherry trees.
But the mimosa…
The split started at the divide of the major branches and went nearly to the ground. It was something of a miracle that half still stood. And it was a good thing, as that half would have taken out the fence and most likely done some damage to their yard and maybe their house. It was fairly obvious the tree could not be saved.
With great sadness I contact the Yard Guy and told him that the tree would need to be removed, and he might as well do the winter clean up while he was here. We’ll come next Monday, he replied, and added That’s too bad. I always liked that tree. It was a really pretty one. We’ll clean your gutters while were there, too.
I made a mental note to check the grape vines over the weekend and see where all they’d gotten to. The grapes have a tendency to want to come in the house, and have been known to wrap themselves around #1 Son’s bedroom window and through the window screen, which is right there next to them. I wanted to show the vine the error of its ways before the Yard Guy came, and at least pull it away from the shutter.
On Thursday, my cell phone rang just as I was walking into a meeting. Since the meeting hadn’t started yet, I answered.
Hello. This is Alarm Central Monitoring. We have detected a breach in security at your house. It appears that one of your bedroom windows has been compromised. We have dispatched the Sheriff and he should arrive momentarily. (yes, they really do talk like that)
I felt an immediate surge of adrenalin and was instantly on high alert. I’m leaving now and I’ll be home in 20 minutes. The Sheriff can call me at this number. I poked my head in the door of the meeting room and said, sorry, gotta go, house being burgled and ran for the parking lot. As I ran, and drove, I wondered if the cats were OK, and the computers, and the special big plastic box, and the yarn stash (surely they would not want my yarn stash?). Oh the poor cats. Kidd would freak out and die outside in the cold. Had I really remembered to store all of the exceedingly important files off site? My house!
Half way home, my cell rang again. Hi. This is the Sheriff. I checked out your house, and everything looks OK. There’s a crew there doing some yard work. Looks like they rattled the window or something. But everything was locked up tight. I don’t think you need to hurry home. Looks OK!
Yard crew? The Yard Guy wasn’t supposed to be there until Monday. WTF? Would burglars act like a yard crew in order to throw the Sheriff off? Would the Sheriff buy it? (And, most importantly, would the burglars do some yard work while they were at it?)
I thanked the Sheriff and proceeded home. And, sure enough, there was Yard Guy and his crew. The mimosa (RIP) lay in pieces on the font lawn while a couple of guys cut it up and tossed it into a big truck. Many loud, gas-powered, testosterone-driven tools were at work, drowning out the neighborhood peace. Yard Guy was in the back of the truck, loading up tree parts. I walked over. Hi there! I wasn’t expecting you today. I shouted.
Yard Guy: We weren’t doing much today, so I decided we might as well come over and take your tree out and do your clean up. Did you know the Sheriff was here?
Me: Yeah. I am aware of that. That’s sort of why I’m here.
Yard Guy: Oh! Yeah. I rattled a back window or something, getting the grape vines off of it. Apparently your alarm went off, but I didn’t hear it. It might still be going off. Come in the back yard and I’ll show you what were were doing.
Now, gentle reader, my alarm is very loud. I have set it off a time or two myself, accidentally. Not only does it use a piercingly shrieking, air-raid siren loud alarm, but it yells at you. In English. Warning! You have entered a secured area. Leave immediately! The entire neighborhood can hear it. The fact that, standing in my back yard, I could not hear it at all – and in fact could barely hear it with my ear pressed against the window – gives you an idea of the noise being generated by the yard crew and their myriad tools.
I went inside, where the sound of the alarm was quite noticeable, and shut it off. Then went back outside to
shout have a conversation with Yard Guy.
Yard Guy: I thought I sort of heard something. But nobody else could hear it, so we just ignored it. Do you want me to put that 2×4 back up on the arbor?
Me: Yes, please. That would be very nice of you.
As well as taking out the tree and mending the arbor, they also cleaned out the gutters (and repaired one that was coming loose), trimmed and pruned and edged, and got the yard ready for winter. I really do love Yard Guy and his crew. They do a wonderful job. It was just that they didn’t come when expected, and I didn’t have time to get ready for them. Unfortunate, you know.
And it didn’t end there…
Next… there is more… and maybe knitting, too.