15 September 2010

"For they had no mud in paradise"

I think I mentioned that the county had marked a tree on the corner of my property for removal.

This, in and of itself, was not a source of dismay. The tree had been struggling for a few years, and it was against some overhead lines.

Time passed. The tree died. I went on vacation. Empires rose and fell. The county still had not come to take the tree down.

I was increasingly annoyed by the corpse of the oak with the caution tape tied around it. For one thing, it was shedding bark and pieces of upper branches, and I really didn't want to have to deal with insurance or anything else should it come down on its own. For another, I had two fig trees that needed planting, and didn't want to plant them until the tree was gone.

Friday last, a man knocked on the door, identified himself as a contractor for the county, and proceeded to shuck and jive shamelessly about how the work order said the tree was against power lines, but those weren't power lines they were phone and cable lines, and blah de yada do dah.

As you might gather, I was not particularly impressed by this performance. I called the county's road services to ask just what was going on. The manager I needed to talk to was not in, so I left a message.

Monday, I arrived home from work to find the tree had been dismantled (dismembered?), with chunks of it stacked in my yard. In addition, a 10-foot portion of my fence had been taken down, and apparently a limb had been dropped in my pond, because there was a large puncture to the lining and most of the water had drained out.

As you might gather, I was not particularly impressed by this either.

My immediate concern was my waterlily, which was high-and-drying if not yet high-and-dry. Hardy waterlilies will take all sorts of abuse but they will not take drying out. So I changed clothes, went looking for a bucket in which I could put it, and, having found the bucket, set about trying to extract the waterlily from the muck at the bottom of the pond.

Something most people don't know about waterlilies is that they're terrible thugs. Oh sure, they look lovely, with those delicately pointed flowers, and fish sheltering under their leaves, but beneath the surface? They are plotting world domination.

They will stretch their roots out through drainage holes and and over the rims of conventional pots and sink deep into the mulm. I have even known them to punch through the sides of baskets designed for aquatic plants and send out roots and tubers that way. I dare not feed them; indeed I don't even give them soil anymore. When I repot them, as I do every couple of years, they're packed in pea gravel and slung back into the pond to get such nourishment as they can from sun and fish.

Even this rough treatment doesn't deter them much. When I tried to lift the basket, it was evident that the lily had grabbed hold of the pond floor and wasn't interested in letting go. I fished around in the sludge, breaking as many roots as I could, and tried again. It began to give, so I tugged a little harder.

I believe that the gods love farce at least as much as they love tragedy, and perhaps more.

At the third tug, the basket came free, but I lost my balance and fell squarely on my arse in the mud, with the basket of waterlilies in my lap, in full view of the neighbours who had come to inspect the downed tree.

Of course they laughed. I don't blame them, I laughed too. How could we not?

Robert Service


  1. Oh dear...this must be tree removal season. I just wrote about the same, albeit less amusing and less traumatic, event happening in my neighbor's yard. So was the first guy, the shuck & jive man, a huckster? Or really from the county?

  2. Ah yes. The county manager called me back and it turns out that our song-and-dance man was in fact a contractor for the local power company. He had followed his performance at my door with an encore for the county manager, who told him to stop shucking and jiving and take down the tree.

    The manager also assured me that the county would be sending a team around to remove the carcass and put my fence back up in a couple of days. The pond liner would have needed replacing soon anyway.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...