Humor Non-Fiction posted August 25, 2016

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Tree Lives Matter---Apparently.

by Mary Wakeford

This story has been in the making for at least a decade. It all came to a climax on Monday afternoon when a police officer rang my doorbell and informed me I was guilty of committing a misdemeanor, and possible plant death. I tried to contain my enthusiasm.

We are approaching our twenty-fourth year living in our two story home in Arizona, where 96.4 percent of homeowners have swimming pools. A man and his wife moved in behind us over a decade ago, becoming the second owner. My point being, he knew there was a two story home behind his from the get go. We didn't try to pull a fast one by building on an empty lot.

Immediately, bushes and trees were planted directly behind our shared wall in an attempt to obstruct the view from our second story. That's all well and good, I get it.

His trees and bushes quickly fell under the category of, "our owner doesn't believe in seasonal pruning." Subsequently, the dirty, messy, filthy yellow bell has thrived unattended for over a decade and is now the size and breadth of a mighty oak, dropping debris constantly in our pool compromising the pump, covering my flower beds with its organic jizz, and creating a sun blocking barrier over our entire backyard with an accomplice, a.k.a., a four-story free spirited fooooookcus benjamina tree.

We have tried the neighborly civility route of asking the man to wean his dependence and end the fencing assault for the reasons stated above. Year after year, our pleas have gone ignored. August 21st, 2016 Edwina Scissorhands was birthed.

Over the weekend; ten years and forty some seasonal quarter's later, my husband and I tended to clean up the debris left by his offending veils of secrecy. Out came the power tools, ladders, and swear words. We began pruning back the monsters on Saturday. As I watched my husband resist gravity on a ladder atop a flower bed, I shuddered at the thought of a branch knocking him off his perch. Ten minutes later, a branch missed my husband, but fell on his vertical extension saw, breaking it from the pole to which it was attached, before coming to rest on the top of one of our sulcata tortoises that had mosied over to witness the buzzing action from his ground floor view.

Once a check of Don-a-shello's hood and undercarriage revealed no damage, and after he was moved to safer territory, the cussing and buzzing commenced. Edward Scissorhands has nothing on my husband, if you factor out the f-bomb required "R" rating.

By the end of the weekend, the pruning of our neighbor's disorderly conduct in temperatures exceeding 104 degrees may have caused me to momentarily snap, crackle and pop.

As I raked mountains of the yellow bell's jizz from the flower beds, I went inside under the guise of using the restroom. I snagged three plastic garbage bags, and wrote a two page rant for the jerk behind us. I waterproof taped my handwritten salvo across one of the bags ensuring my disdain would not be dissolved by sprinklers or monsoon rains, then filled them with leaves and a few roaches that had taken up ownership because I'm not one to break up a family. You have to understand, my bitch-mode was over a decade in the making.

When the last limb from the obese tree trespassing our sanity zone crossed back over the fence to its rightful yard, I climbed the ladder to launch my last order of business--the bags. My husband suggested I was going too far, still completely unaware bag #3 carried a blistering salvo. My Irish was too overheated to listen as I thrust it, note side facing up toward Heaven as if acknowledging my mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima bitcha culpa (bag #3 with writing).  As it landed atop the pile of severed limbs, I clapped the dirt from my hands and stepped from the ladder with a snicker and a smirk and headed toward air conditioning and ice cream.

The following afternoon, I was napping with my sick grandchild when the doorbell chimed. Our dog, Moose, in usual form, went nuts barking because in his mind, his dog screaming will defend us from the next Charles Manson Helter Skelter scenario. Moose takes his job annoyingly seriously.

Feeling a little groggy, and highly disturbed at both the dog and the doorbell, I headed toward the peep hole. The peep revealed a police officer. Figuring we had a hostage situation in the neighborhood, I opened the door and asked him politely what was going on. He asked if I was the owner of the home and if I was alone...I answered yes and no in that order, and asked why. "I need to talk with you about an incident that was reported by the neighbor behind you and charging you with a misdemeanor crime".

In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have responded with a "You've got to be kidding me," assisted by a smirk, an eye roll and a head shake, while thinking to myself "oh shit, I should have listened to hubby." I may even have blurted out "what a wanker to call the police". It was clear I was not scoring points with the po-po on my porch.

Once my daughter took care of my screaming grandchild, I invited the officer inside and delivered him to the scene of the crime--our back yard.

In clear view, the weapon of branch destruction, my husband's neon green chainsaw was seemingly basking in the notoriety much like the bloody glove at O.J. Simpson's home on Rockingham. The officer tried to contain his giddiness at the find.

Following a thirty minute lecture by officer Hedge, pun intended, and suggestion for a city mediator, the threat of fines, blah-blah-blah, I was not winning a losing battle. It was obvious he was pulling for the guy south of us, causing me to wonder if he was a personal friend summoned to shake down good ole' Edwina Scissorhands.

Edwina wasn't going down without an argument, as she secretly pondered the effects full disclosure of the undisclosed note might have on Mr. Scissorhand when he arrived home from work in a few hours.

Inside the house, my daughter was tending to a cranky baby while simultaneously snap-chatting with her siblings, inclusive of photos of me and the cop amidst the limb shakedown, and mentioning potential misdemeanor charges. The phone lines were blowing up, unbeknownst to me and officer Hedge as we continued to argue about the fairness of the situation. "Let me get this straight, I have to prune his out of control branches that we have repeatedly asked him to reign in AND take them to the dump and pay for dump charges ourselves? Ludicrous I tell you!!"

At one point, Officer Unfriendly suggested our aggressive pruning action on the yellow bells this time of year would surely kill it. My celebratory "YES" inclusive of a fist pump was not well received, so I followed it up by mentioning trimming it this time of year nearly killed me, my husband and our unsuspecting tortoise, not to mention my husband's pruning saw being DOA. I noted the start of a smirk on the officer. By adding "that the damn yellow bell is nothing more than a glorified weed and would survive Armageddon" his smirk quickly turned to a frown. I was losing ground faster than the cockroaches I lobbed over the fence on Sunday.

I also mentioned that I had even gone to the trouble of  attaching a note, explaining our actions. It was met with an unemotional, "I read your note." I stood in silence awaiting his rating--would the popo give me the all elusive SIX for its cleverness?  He remarked the homeowner took my note as a threat and called the police. So much for my ranking.

I took this as a sign to retreat inside the house where I had to submit my driver's license for my 'disorderly conduct' report. I knew I was in trouble when he remarked "I haven't seen one this old in a long time." I processed his slight about the time I remembered my license expired on my birthday last week. Officer Hedge followed that thought with "Well, well, well, we have an expired license here, looks like I can make my quota on just you today."

Officer Hedge had invaded my last nerve. I needed to end the insanity before it escalated to a felony.

Aside from the usual speeding tickets every now and then, this is my first potential criminal charge. Who knew turning sixty would prove so liberating.

Tree lives matter...apparently.


So many options for the category on this one, Mystery and Crime, Horror and Thriller [from a tree, bush and roach perspective) Satire, Humor, Biographical...I settled for humor.

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