Trees & Other Things
by Valerie Nusbaum
It’s mid-summer, and since we had a rather wet spring season, things around here have been growing like mad. Randy and I like to have our mature trees pruned every couple of years for safety reasons, and since neither of us likes heights or is much of a climber, we hire a tree service to do the job for us. We use a licensed, reliable local service and have been very pleased with the work we’ve had done over the years.
The other evening, Mike, the owner of the tree service, stopped by to take a look at the work we wanted to be done so that he could give us an estimate.
Randy walked Mike through our yard and talked with him about the various stuff growing here. Mike pointed to the English walnut tree beside our house and commented that it looks very healthy, surprisingly so since those trees don’t always do well in our area. Randy mentioned that the tree had come to us in a tiny flower pot from my dad many years ago. Randy expressed his disappointment that the tree has never borne nuts. We weren’t sure if we need a second tree in order for the two to cross-pollinate, or if the army of squirrels and the bevy of birds living with us have been pilfering and plundering.
Mike laughed and said that it’s very unlikely that we’ll ever see walnuts on that tree since it’s a white ash. Well!
That reminds me of my mother-in-law, Mary, who had a way with all plants, vegetables, and flowers. Hers were always taller, bigger, and stronger than anyone else’s. Her gardens were prolific, so she was constantly digging up things and toting the plants up here for me to plant and, ultimately, kill. Mary handed me several green, leafy, kind of stinky things and pronounced that she was gifting me with mint plants.
I dutifully planted those things in my herb garden and around our deck because I’d read that mint repels mosquitoes and other insects, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t kill the stuff. I will say this about that: the “mint” may have repelled insects, but it sure did attract cats. It finally dawned on me that the mint was actually catnip the day I found the neighbor’s cat passed out on my garden bench from over-indulging. My mother still laughs about the day Ol’ Jasper got up off the bench and staggered home, high as a kite.
Moving on from plant material, here’s a moral dilemma for you: You go to a fast food restaurant drive-thru and order food and drinks. After you pay, your order gets passed to you through the pickup window in a bag, so chances are you give it a cursory look-see to make sure it’s all there and then you go on home. Once you get home and start to divvy up your takeout, you discover that the restaurant has given you six chicken nuggets instead of the four you ordered. What do you do?
Do you let it be? You’ve likely been to that same restaurant and gotten home to find that something was missing from your order. It all balances out in the end.
Do you drive back to the restaurant to pay for the extra pieces? It’s several miles from your home, and your food is getting cold.
Do you, the next time you go to the restaurant, tell the person at the drive-thru that you got extras last time and offer to pay the difference?
The way in which you would handle that situation says a lot about you, your morals, and your character. I’m just messing with you. The nuggets weren’t for me, and I had no idea how many were actually in the box until Mom told me later that she’d put three of them away because six were too many. What? She’s 90 years old, and if she wants a chocolate milkshake and chicken nuggets for lunch, she can have it.
Randy and I ran into a former classmate of his one day while we were in Dollar Tree. Shirley, let me assure you that Randy is mostly clueless when it comes to recognizing people. It wasn’t you. Now, I’m pretty sure that you and I have met before, maybe in that same store, and maybe more than once. I remember having a conversation with you in the past. I don’t always recognize faces, particularly these days when we’re wearing masks half the time. And, my nouns tend to escape me, so I’m not great with names either. But, other things do trigger memories.
As I told poor Shirley after she’d introduced herself to my oblivious hubby, he tends to think every actress with dark hair is Sandra Bullock, who, by the way, is his hall pass.
Whatever Randy’s shortcomings, he is a good guy. I don’t say it often enough, but I’m very lucky to have him. He usually recognizes me when he sees me, and he doesn’t care that I have a whole list of hall passes. He knows I wouldn’t follow through, even if Justin Hartley gave me the go-ahead, which he wouldn’t. I’m not so sure about Sandra Bullock, though. She might be smart enough to know a good thing when she sees one.
Maybe I should tear up Randy’s pass.