Wednesday, June 15, 2011

fence me in, please!

You didn't get to read the letter I wrote to the city Christmas Eve day a couple of years ago, when huge equipment arrived unexpectedly and began to clear the trees behind our house. 

The incessant beep-beep-beep of the Komatsu, and the painful crunching and cracking of the timber as it was chewed up, were the sounds of Christmas for us that sacred holiday and off and on for more than a year to follow.  Every single tree was removed for a drainage project. 

There was much news about it and many complaints.  I wrote my own letter to the city, opening with: 

It's coming on Christmas,
they're cutting down trees.
They're putting up reindeer
and singing songs of joy and peace.
Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on.....

Maybe you remember; I posted these lines last December.  My mom and I shared them each year around Thanksgiving, neither of us wanting the onslaught of what Christmas has become.  It was always figurative until that year when they literally cut down the trees and I'd never wanted to skate away as badly as I did that Christmas Eve afternoon. 

Until yesterday. 

My mother loved our back yard.  The way she carried on, you'd expect the yard to be exceptional.  It's not.  But it's green and shady, reminiscent of the untamed, southern yards we grew up in, and she loved it.  And I loved it.  And the birds loved it.  And she loved watching them.  And I loved watching her watch them. 

Sometimes we'd eat outside at the old wrought-iron table.  Spoke would bring out more wine and join us.  The weather was good, the pasta was good, life was good. 

But yesterday, Mr. McGregor cut down his shrubs. 

I'm not trying to be smart.  He earned this name many years ago when he began one autumn, to shoot squirrels climbing his pecan tree.  My peaceful Sunday afternoons with Puccini became miserable.  He did stop, or stop if I was home, knowing I might snap his photo, across the fence, between the shrubs he just cut down. 

Those shrubs, maybe twelve feet high, were lush and provided welcomed privacy between us.  On our side of the chain link fence, are abelia, thick but not as tall.  There were tangled vines on both sides of the fence which gave shade and protection for the birds in summer and abundant berries in the winter. 

They shaded me from him. 

It was about 100 degrees yesterday.  Many birds lost their homes and their nests with their eggs.  I lost much of what I loved about our yard.  I lost much of what Mom loved about our yard.  As Mr. McGregor hauled away beautiful, dense, photinia, he hauled away my memories.  Precious memories. 

But I no longer wish to skate away.....  

I'd prefer to shoot somebody.

    Lyrics from "River" by Joni Mitchell

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