Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Chain Saw Makes a Good Neighbor

“Um, well … no.”

I told you about the fence separating Andy’s yard from mine, no? And our plan to replace it? All is going well; they’ve installed the posts for the new fence.

Kevin, on the other side of us, is relatively new ( his tenure in the house is measured in years ) and we also had a recent pleasant experience. It all began innocently enough, as we were chatting over his fence. “Did you know you have a tree growing in your bushes up front?” he asked.

I hid the embarrassment at not noticing, and was able to respond, “Well, no, I didn’t realize that.”

He pointed, I looked, and, sure enough, I saw nothing. “I’ll check it out, thanks,” I said, as I walked toward the bushes he had indicated. Our fence separates his yard from ours. At the end of the fence is a short concrete wall extending to the side of our house, and bushes grow on the backyard side of this wall. In the corner of the wooden fence and concrete wall, a sturdy tree was sprouting. It was tall but did not tower over the bushes. 

Actually, as trees go, this was small. I went in the house, got my ratcheting clippers and managed, with some effort, to cut the trunk of the tree and pull it out. Though I do not consider myself a gardener, I was embarrassed that Kevin showed a better understanding of what is going on in my yard than I have.

A few days later I was talking to him again. He asked, “Do you know you have trees growing in your lilac bushes here by the garage?”

“Uh,  well … no.”

“Take a look,” and we walked toward the back of my yard. Sure enough, among the lilac bushes growing in the garden are trees; plural. More. than. one. Some are small; some rather large. In fact, the tallest plant in the garden was one of these trees.

I was again embarrassed by his noticing more about my plantings than I did; but he is not flaunting this, only conversing about it.

He volunteers to help me remove them, adding, “We can borrow a small electric chain saw from Dave. I’m sure he has one.” I am sure, too; Dave is the guy on our block that has every tool known to man. He’s also very generous about loaning them. “Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday next week would work for me; let me know.”

Meeting Dave in the alley, I spoke with him about borrowing his chain saw. He was speaking with Andy, the neighbor on the other side of me, who offered his saw if Dave’s was not available. Wow. I’d never used a chain saw on my property and two neighbors were competing ( so it seemed ) to loan me theirs. No need, though; Dave’s was available.

The following week Kevin and I worked in my yard. He climbed up on my garage roof to clip the top of a tree that threatened to take down my internet connection if we cut the it down from the ground; on the ground, he took the saw into the thick of the tree branches and lilac shoots and cut and cut and cut; he pulled trees out when we switched roles. A large array of cut trees and lilac branches across my back yard marked the successful end of our endeavor. “I think you can handle it from here,” Kevin said, smiling.

“Yup, sure I can,” I replied, “thanks,” as he put on his baseball cap and walked to the alley, around our garage and home.

And I did handle it, cutting the branches and lilac shoots into pieces small enough to stuff into the lawn waste bags our city collects. I used the saw to cut up a couple maple tree branches that a recent storm had knocked down as well. When finished I had 7 or 8 waste bags, fully stuffed. And I was bushed.

Later I reflected. I realized that this project and the earlier fence project had brought me closer to my neighbors than I had previously been. I felt good; I liked it. I hoped they did, too.

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