“If a Tree Falls in the Backyard, Does It Make a Sound If Only the Mail Carrier Is There to Hear It?”
Now, first off, I’m not complainin’.
But the skies around here have been pretty unstable lately, with words like “low pressure system” and “cold front” being bandied about by the weatherheads. Translation: it’s blessedly cool and lovely…but it’s also raining in eight-minute-spates about five times each day. That, too, is good and fine. We likes the water here in garden country.

However, the other day, the Weather God got into a bit of a snit and stirred up a day of seriously-strong wind gusts. Exhibit A: I was attemtping to exit my favorite coffee shop, iced hazelnut latte in paw, when I was suddenly, completely, literally unable to push the door open. I turned my back to the door, even, and put my legs behind it. No luck. I couldn’t budge the door even a fraction, as it was held shut by the wind.

Fortuitously, a nice woman, her skirt tossed up over her ears (thank heavens she opted to wear her knickers that windy morning, even if they were of the dingey grey granny variety), blew up to the building and worked the door from the other side. Our combined female might finally did the job.

Still skeptical about the force of the gusts? I give you, then, Exhibit B (formerly known as Our Park-Like Backyard):

Yea, so we gusted home that day from the coffee shop and various errand runnings, only to discover that one of our lovely trees had dramatically toppled onto our neighbors’ fence. According to all laws of Nature, of course, it was predestined that the fence be spankin’ new, the screws barely dry, the paint barely drilled in. The only witness to the blowdown was the mail carrier, who was still breathless and awed as he recounted the moment of “tiiiimmmmbbber” to us; later that evening, he began a continued stalking of the downed tree when he drove by it several times, his wife in tow, before ultimately converting his mail truck into a tour bus that he now uses to shuttle passengers down the alley on a daily schedule of 1 p.m, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. (his microphoned commentary of “The Mighty Arbor met its fate under dour skies on July 10th, in the year of Our Lord two-thousand-ought-ought-seven” is already wearing on us).
So now we have a little disaster in the backyard, and I don’t mean The Wee Niblet pouting on the swing mid-afternoon, when his needs for a nap and a snack combine to make him a fearsome beast. No, I mean we have this big, dead, formerly luscious tree laying like a passed-out sorority girl, unconscious atop our recently-transplanted raspberry canes.
And I find that

I mourn the loss of the tire swing that hung from its branches.

I mourn the loss of the knotted climbing rope that led neighborhood children up the bark.

I mourn the loss–deep in my gut–of the tree itself, for the whole thing, even that which still stands upright, has to come down, and its corpse must undergo a complete hack-job. Quite out of proportion to the event itself, I mourn the death of this glorious old behemoth. I am profoundly, even mawkishly, sad.

But even more deeply and profoundly, I mourn the clean-up estimate dropped with a loud clang onto our checkbook today by the local tree service. That’s got my heart hurting more than anything, for our bank account had already been severely depleted by the recent big road trip and rental of the U-Haul. And now this new bill looms larger than any sale of Hummels and vintage Rosenthal china (my mom bought it in France in 1960, and we have 88 pieces of it, and it’s not at all foofy, and you know you want it!) can recoup.

*big sigh of financial woe*

The Children would so have enjoyed college, too.

Without a college education, they’ll be virtually useless, right? Sans degree, I’m pretty sure they’ll never be able to support us handsomely in our dotage, and isn’t that the point of progeny?
Thus, the sign on my front lawn needs to change from “Hummels for Sale” to “Children for Sale.” One of them can just about push the vacuum, and the other is able to laze in the bathtub for an hour and a half without supplemental oxygen. Clearly, they are valuable additions to any household that almost needs vacuuming and is short on air. I’ll even toss in a discount if you buy both kids AND the Rosenthal china, ‘k? Like five dollars off.
So here’s the deal: you buy ‘em; you send ‘em to college; and then you send ‘em back here to Ma and Pa. By then, we may have just about paid off the damn tree debt.
But you can keep the china.

About Jocelyn

There's this game put out by the American Girl company called "300 Wishes"--I really like playing it because then I get to marvel, "Wow, it's like I'm a real live American girl who has 300 wishes, and that doesn't suck, especially compared to being a dead one with none."

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