That hideous shrub, that camellia you planted near our front door, is thankfully dead. You’ve no idea how pleased I was. I’ve never liked the thing as you know. It flowers white with dribbles of pink, like God had been cleaning his teeth and dribbled pink toothpaste all down the front of His white shirt. It’s always been bordering on the grotesque. And now thankfully it’s dead.
I never had the heart to chop it out. You planted it, and liked it, and when you passed away I thought it could stay there as some sort of memorial. Every year, for the past fifteen years, I thought, “That goddam thing is in flower again”. Well! It died, and without any help from me. At last I could dig it out and plant something – in your memory of course – in its place. Only yesterday I went to the plant shop and bought the most beautiful rhododendron. It’s white with a pink throat. I intend to plant it in the same spot. I shall call it “My beautiful rhodo”.
You’ve no idea the trouble I’ve gone to rid myself of that old camellia. The trash collection no longer accepts “garden waste”, so I’ve had to cut the shrub into tiny bits and hide them in black plastic trash bags. It’s amazing how much wood there is in an old camellia shrub. It’s taken four weeks of trash collections, but at last it’s gone except for the stump and roots which I intended to dig out and trash today before planting the rhododendron.
Except this morning when I went out to begin the task I saw the stump had sprouted. I’m sorry, my dear.
I don’t know if you can see the photo of these two old trees. One’s dead, and the other is barely alive. My husband and I planted these trees years and years ago. He’s dead now – the husband. He planted the dead one. I planted the other one, the one that’s gnarled and barely alive. I’ll be eighty-seven this coming October.
There used to be a house roughly where the person taking the photo would be standing. That was our house. The first and only house we had. The two children were born there. It was our dream place; a lovely house, not too big and not too small, set on twelve acres of what could only be described as park land. We planted those two trees (and a number of others here and there) as part of the “landscaping” of our park. Our life was like a perpetual honeymoon.
Jude had built the house himself. And I helped of course, as best I could. I sewed drapes and did the painting and wall-papering and so on. Jude was the one with the saw and the hammer and the screw driver and the muscle. It was like a dream come true!
After the birth of the second child things fell apart. We’d been in the house for four years and we put it up for sale. No one ever bought it and Jude disappeared before any divorce proceedings began. I leased out most of the land to a neighbouring farmer and stayed in the house with the children. They’re gone now – the children. Tony’s a lawyer up in the big city, and Rachel manages a business that teachers adults how to do basic computer things.
My current house gets quite cold in winter, so I’ve asked Tony to come and cut down that dead tree for firewood. The one that’s barely alive has a few more years left in it. It might sound cruel but I’m looking forward to burning logs of Jude’s tree throughout the winter. It’s good he’s serving some purpose at this stage of my life. Apart from building the house he wasn’t much good for much when he was here. In fact he was useless. And mean; really mean. It’s why I did him in.
“It’s a beautiful summer’s day,” said Anton to his wife, Megan. “It’s the perfect day to cut down that pine tree that’s been blocking our view of the mountains.”
“It’s too dangerous,” said Megan. “You always said you’d get it done professionally. You don’t know much about cutting down a tree. You’ve only ever used your chainsaw to cut up logs that have already fallen over.”
“It’s no bother,” said Anton. “I’ve seen people do it, and I watched a video on how to do it as well. Today’s the perfect day for it.”
“Just think of your three kids,” said Megan. “They don’t want a tree falling and killing their father.”
“Balderdash!” said Anton. “I’m doing it. And we can cut up the tree and dry it for firewood.”
Time and time again in life the inevitable happens. Anton stubbornly took his chain saw out to the huge pine tree that was blocking the view of the mountains. He began to cut the tree down.
“TIMBER!” shouted Anton as the tree fell. “How exciting is that! See! It’s down and I’m still here. It simply takes a bit of know-how. Now to cut up firewood.”
By one in the afternoon Anton was dead. Heat stroke.
(Hi Everyone – am I the only one in the world getting 40/50 spam messages a day on WordPress that simply say “What?” I’m getting sick of it. And four times now, over the years, my comments have been usurped, and insulted people I follow (in some cases for years) by whoever the bastard is… I thought by ignoring it they would go away but they haven’t. And now this complaint will probably encourage them. Anyway, here’s today’s post…)