Wednesday, May 16, 2007

If a Shrub Falls in the Forest….

During the winter I wrote about an incident where one of my neighbors killed himself on a day when hardly anyone was around. When something like this happens, it reminds me of the koan about whether or not a tree makes a sound if no one hears it fall.

Just call me an amplifier.

Today’s event wasn’t tragic at all, just silly.

Until yesterday there was a sad strip of shrubbery between my building and the one next door. Someone over-pruned it a few years ago, and since then, there has been very little green to the bushes, just dead twigs and gnarled roots. Sometimes garbage would accumulate in the branches. Last week, a black baseball cap appeared perched on top of the bushes, and I didn’t know what to do about it. It was a perfectly good hat that must have come off someone’s head, so I didn’t want to throw it away, but it looked ridiculous sitting there.

Yesterday a crew of guys with a big truck took care of the problem for me. They began sawing the bushes apart and clearing them out.

That part seemed to go well. Today has been a little weirder. They got the easy parts taken away, but late this morning, they had to remove the trunks and roots. This seemed to be too much for their tools, so they tied a rope to one trunk, and the other end to their truck. It took several accelerations, but finally the trunk exploded out of the ground like a loose tooth tied to a slamming door.

This worked so well they tried it with bigger sections of root, and persisted even through breaking a taillight and getting the rope wrapped around a wheel. Just a moment ago, though, I heard glass break and now they’re hacking the roots out of the ground with a pickaxe.

Soon they will have it all out, and will have swept up all the dirt and stray branch clippings. The neighbors will come home and notice the empty space between buildings, but they will have no idea how exactly it happened, and how it happily distracted me from work for about an hour.

And how lucky they are that their car windows are okay.

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