Sunday, August 25, 2013

An Old Apple Tree

Weather: Rain Thursday afternoon; last rain 8/22/2013; 13:52 hours of daylight today.

What’s blooming in the area: Hybrid roses, bird of paradise, silver lace vine, Russian sage, roses of Sharon, purple garden phlox, zinnias and African marigolds from seed, cultivated sunflowers, alfalfa.

Beyond the walls and fences: Trumpet creeper, sweet peas, buffalo gourd, purple mat flower, stickleaf, leather-leafed globe mallow, bindweed, greenleaf five-eyes, ivy-leaf morning glory, silver-leaf nightshade, velvetweed, yellow evening primrose, Russian thistle, pigweed, ragweed, Hopi tea, Tahoka daisy, golden hairy aster, native Mexican hat, gumweed, horseweed, goldenrod, native sunflowers.

In my yard, looking east: Hosta, baby’s breath, coral bells, winecup mallow, sidalcea.

Looking south: Rugosa, floribunda and miniature roses, Illinois bundle flower.

Looking west: Caryopteris, Johnson Blue geranium, David phlox, catmints, calamintha, sea lavender, ladybells, lead plant, bachelor buttons from seed, Mönch aster.

Looking north: Golden spur columbine, chocolate flowers, blanket flowers, anthemis, chrysanthemum, dahlias.

In the open, along the drive: Fern bush, Dutch clover, hollyhock, Shirley and California poppies, larkspur, black-eyed Susan, lance-leaf coreopsis, yellow, red and mixed Mexican hats, Sensation and yellow cosmos.

Bedding plants: Wax begonias, snapdragons, sweet alyssum, French marigolds, gazanias.

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums, aptenia.

Animal sightings: Geckos, small bees, hornets, large and small black ants.

Weekly update: Agatha Christie often uses gossip as a way to present information about characters in her mystery novels. I don’t doubt I have neighbors who are equally nosy, and just as willing to talk. I suspect the main difference is Christie’s old tabbies, as they were called, passed on information about sex. Now, drugs are more important.

I don’t worry much about who’s doing what. I don’t even worry much about who’s stealing what. Professional thieves or gang members cruising public roads are a greater danger than someone’s out-of-control teenage son, and more likely to be armed. The one may be an eight on the scale of potential violence, but the other’s a ten.

When I walk along the road, I want to know who has savage dogs that could jump a fence. I want to know which paranoid man has fried his brains so seriously he would use a gun to attack a strange shadow. While I rarely take pictures of people or their houses, I often take pictures of their animals. Just in case.

I had one neighbor who threw a firecracker at me when I was stopped in front of another house surveying its new dog. The Savage, as I called him thereafter, had his own dogs that once got loose and circled me, until someone stopped to help. He had another dog his girlfriend told me was so vicious they had to keep it away from the first dogs. She was hoping they wouldn’t have to put it down.

Just another victim and victimizer of drugs. It had belonged to her daughter and been abused. All very interesting, but not as important as the quality of the chain they used to keep it in its pen.

I never could decide if his yard was so overgrown because he was too lazy to keep it clear, or if he wanted trees to hide his house and block the light from entering the windows. The local utility came through periodically and cropped the Siberian elms in their right of way.

The landscaping was typical for the area. Volunteer Siberian elms at each end of the trailer. Two apple trees and an arborvitae in front. Two years ago, the apples produced too much fruit. Like almost every apple in the area.

This year, they survived by putting out suckers from the base. Like almost every apple in the area.

Nothing out of the ordinary.

The reason it seemed overgrown was the man had built an addition in front of his trailer that filled the space between it and the trees.

Nothing odd. Things just happen that way when people put down roots.

The man and the dogs are gone. Without Christie’s gossips for friends, I don’t know if he was arrested or just moved on.

My first clue was the elms. First I heard saws. Then I drove by. Two men were hacking away. When I returned from the post office, I had to move right to pass two pick-up trucks with beds filled with branches.

At first I thought the Savage was tearing down the addition because the roof leaked and damaged the walls beyond repair. Then the trailer disappeared.

Without Christie’s gossips I don’t know when. I only know what I saw driving by.

I deduced the Savage must have rented the land. Maybe he took the trailer with him. Maybe the landowner cleared it as a nuisance. Unlike some, he didn’t patch the holes and rerent it to even poorer people who would share the space with other families.

When I walked by yesterday I was curious how much had been cut. I wondered if the guys clearing out the property were the type who hated everything that grew, and weren’t happy until everything was plain brown dirt ripened for pigweed.

They must have been men very much like the Savage. They took out everything that was in their way - the elms and the arborvitae. But, they knew apples.

They may have had to do some pruning, but they knew apples.

They weren’t agents for some Santa Fé entrepreneur looking to export the city’s poverty to my neighborhood.

When you don’t live near an old tabby, plants are sometimes all you have to tell you about your neighbors.

Unfortunately, all they signal is values. They can’t tell you anything about potential danger.

1. House a year ago, soon after the utility cut the front Siberian elms, 28 March 2012.

2. Arborvitae at front of house, 12 December 2011.

3. The vicious, but bored and curious dog, 11 January 2012.

4. Siberian elms trimmed by the utility company, 28 March 2012.

5. Apple trees, 19 April 2012.

6. Same apple trees, 14 May 2013.

7. Empty trailer space, 24 August 2013.

8. Same apple trees, from front, 24 August 2013.

9. Same apple trees, from side, 24 August 2013.

10. Siberian elms grown back along the road, 24 August 2013.

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