On the eves of our daughters’ weddings, I gave both of them what I considered to be excellent marital advice: Never leave your husband unsupervised with pruning shears.
If only I had heeded my own caution. I recently let my guard down. Thirty-some years of marriage can do that to a woman. Now, as a result, the only thing that has been harder on our trees and shrubs than this past brutal winter has been the husband.
Give a man pruning shears, a telescopic extension and electric trimmers and he will give new meaning to the term armed and dangerous.
Champing at the bit, the husband pronounced the crab apple tree dead earlier this year.
“Why do you think it is dead?” I asked.
“Look at it; there’s not a leaf on it.”
“There’s not a leaf on anything. It’s March,” I said.
“It looked sick last fall and with this bitter winter we had, I’m convinced it’s dead.”
The truth is he’s never liked the crab apple. Sure, it has beautiful blooms in the spring, but then it gets a fungus, the leaves curl, it drops those little apples that ferment on the driveway and make the bees drunk. Once your bees are buzzed it pretty well puts an end to outdoor activities.
Each passing week he pronounced the tree dead. Eventually I began to believe him. Though he agreed it would be a regrettable loss, there was a twinkle in his eye. He armed himself a couple of weeks ago and began trimming. A branch here, a branch there, a small limb, then a larger limb. I watched and then decided to check the wood on some of the branches closer to the trunk. I broke one off and saw green.
After checking a source online, I realized the crab apple was not dead, it just hadn’t had time to leaf out. The tree was now lopsided, but it was not dead. This is why we should have got professions to do this, people who understand proper tree surgery . I would have told him so, but he had moved on to a maple. Once the man starts, he can’t stop. One trim leads to another. He was giving the maple what could only be described as a haircut that was high and tight.
“Please, stop!” I called. “It’s a maple, not a Marine!”
He smiled and nodded, but he couldn’t hear because he had revved up the hedge trimmers and was preparing to “touch up” a line of shrubs.
Zip, zip, zip. Zip, zip, zip.
“What do you think?” he shouts.
“It’s supposed to be a privacy hedge; now all that will be private are our ankles.”
He revved the trimmers again. “Stop!” I called. “Come back!”
“Why?” he shouts.
“You’re in the neighbor’s yard.”