Friday, March 12, 2010

Tree Trimmer Dude

Yesterday an old, frail-looking man knocked on my door.

"May I help you?" I asked.

"How about I lighten up that tree?"

"Excuse me?"

"Too many leaves and branches are bad. Makes it easier for thieves to break into your home, bees come, and bird's nests too."

This bird's nest thing I don't get. But my mother-in-law also talks about nests with disdain. I've heard she knocks them down when she finds them. Not while I'm around, mind you. I throw girlie hissy fits when she does that. Strange, strange. <-- Her not my girlie hissy fits.

"Well, I haven't seen any bees."

"They'll be here. I'll do a real good job. Only two thousand yen."

Two thousand yen is about twenty bucks. I probably couldn't buy a nice lunch for that. And I had been trying to find someone to trim it for awhile...

"It's a deal," I said.

"Do you have ladder?"

This is when I noticed the old guy didn't come in a car. He had walked. It was just him and a small cloth bag. Plus, I'd never seen him around here before. I walk my dog everywhere and know practically all the elderly people in my neighborhood. My Spidey senses began to tingle.

"No, I'm afraid I don't have a ladder."

"That's okay I'll climb."

This man isn't a day over 90. He's also not a day under 85. The tree is almost as tall as our two-story house. My face must have registered my shock.

"It's fine. I'm light. When I get up there I'll take off my jacket and I'll be lighter."

"Being light isn't what I'm worried about."

"I do this all the time. I'm a professional."

"Oh, dear." Trying to find an excuse to back out of the deal I say, "Well, I need to run a bunch of errands."

"It'll take about three hours or so, take your time."

"Two thousand yen is pretty cheap, does that price include clean up?"

"Oh, no, clean up would cost a whole lot more."

Still, twenty bucks to trim my monstrosity of a tree is bargain as far as I'm concerned, so I leave him to clip away. But before I leave I took this not-very-good picture of him.

Then I ran off to the laundromat to wash blankets. I also stopped by the grocery store. I picked him up a bottle of tea and a soft bean paste cake. The whole time though I'm thinking, I just left a complete stranger at my house and this stranger knows I'm not home and was talking about thieves not fifteen minutes ago.

Rush through my errands only to screech into my driveway fully expecting to find my front door open and him gone with my new laptop. But he's still there. He's out of the tree and walking around it in circles.

"Hello, looks nice!" I yell from the car.

"I dropped my saw."

"Excuse me?"

"My expandable saw. It's gone."

"Here, have some tea and cake, I'll help you find it."

So I walk around kicking at leaves and branches and ten minutes later I find it. Tree trimmer dude has had a few ciggies, drank all his tea and stuffed the cake in his pocket for later. I commend him on his work again and go inside to put away food.

I'm watching him climb the tree, praying he doesn't slip and fall and break something. I note he's more limber than I am, probably. I clean, do stuff, and then I realize I need to get back to the laundromat. Looking outside I see he's taken all the branches and cut them into equal lengths and then made small bundles to make it easier for me tie up. Suddenly two thousand yen seems cruel. I slip five thousand into an envelop and go outside to tell him I'm off again.

"Thank you so much. It really looks great."

"Hrgnh." He's busy organizing piles.

"Well, I gotta be going again and it looks like your almost done so here's your..."

He takes the envelop and smiles. He's only got like two teeth and I am very happy I decided to give him the soft cake instead of rice crackers. I had actually debated at the store.

So I leave to get the blankets and when I get back he's gone and all the branches are in piles and the tree is practically naked just the way they like trees here. Well, that was nice, I think.

When J gets in from school he's a little miffed.

"What about Gloria?" he asks.

Gloria is our pigeon. Well, not "our" pigeon. But she came two years ago and built a nest in our tree. I thought she was going to lay eggs and J and I checked every day. One day I noticed another bully pigeon hanging around and picking on her, so I chased him away. I realized later that they weren't fighting...they were, um, "getting it on". She didn't lay eggs for two years. But she still frequents her badly (and I mean badly) made nest. Also, I don't know what made me start calling her Gloria.

"Gloria? I barely see her anymore."

"Well, she's out there in the nest looking confused."

I checked and sure enough there she was. I was very happy the old man didn't take her nest down, or step on it. I mean he was right there. And I know how people around me seem to hate nests.

J crumbled up some bread crumbs for her last night and put them in a bowl by the tree. Unfortunately, every time I take the dog for a pee he thinks it's his snack trough and grabs a mouthful.

Ready for the really good news? This morning when I was hanging out clothes I was talking to Gloria who suspiciously was still sitting in her nest around noon. She looks at me, tweet, tweet, tweet, then looks down, puke, puke, puke. BABIES! I mean, CHICKS! I saw two for sure.

It stresses me out just to think what a close call yesterday was. I don't know if they hatched during the night (as a result of a lot of tree shaking? does that happen?) or if they were wee little chicks when he was cutting and climbing all over the place, but I'm just happy nothing happened to them. And I can't wait to tell J, because we've been jonesin' for these babies for a couple years now. I just wish she had a little more protection around her. That tree really is naked now.

Look at that proud mama. I wonder if I can train them?


Pat said...

Such a funny story, Terrie! I'll have to work on finding such humor in what my weird neighbors do.

I don't get the whole naked tree thing though - it doesn't seem to jive with my impression of the Japanese for some reason. You know...more earth-minded or somethin'.

Kappa no He said...

Pat, it blows my mind too. But I get lots of grief for not having my tree trimmed to mere bones. My neighbor who washes his car in the rain also goes out with a pair of scissors almost daily to clip a leaf or two or more. He brings out the heavy artillery a few times a year. I'll take a photo. I mean, his trees DO look very nice. Not much shade though.

Frank Baron said...

Ah, that was good. I enjoyed every word. You tell a good story, lady. :)

I'm thinking the Japanese like their trees to look light and airy and spacious because much of life there is densely packed.

Congrats on being a pigeon Granny. ;)

Kappa no He said...

Frank, I'm so sad. I think we lost the chicks. She was good to go for two days feeding them and sitting on them, but then she bailed and I haven't seen movement or heard a thing. I feel horrible. I checked and it doesn't look like the fell from the nest. *sniff*

Joe said...

You were allowing PIGEONS to nest near your home?! T, you traitor! They are vermin, rats of the air!

I swear I'm not talking to you anymore...


Free for lunch next Tuesday?

Kappa no He said...

Ha ha, it's like the time with the koi. I saved the koi and then someone wrote here that they so overrun some rivers in Australia was it (?) that they are highly despised. I am a friend to the underdog.

Lunch sounds cool.

Victoria Dixon said...

Cool story. Sorry you lost them, though. :( Even rats of the air have a purpose.

I dropped in to see what was up and this story grabbed and pulled me in, you writer you!

Anonymous said...

When I lived in the missionary house in Hamamatsu, I had the "Siver Squad" over to trim the garden. This was a large, western-style house with a garden (a regular yard, actually) cared for by missionary wives over 50 years, so it had new flowers about every 2-3 weeks. The old guys were amazed and really happy to work there. They'd never seen a curly crepe-myrtle (sarusubari) grown out so that its branches made a real tree, and they really liked working on the kinmokusei (some kind of jasimine) and everything else there.
The Lutherens sold it at the top of the housing bubble (good for them), but the new owners tore down a beautiful house and uprooted the garden and put up an ugly apartment building and asphalt parking lot. No green at all. It should have been preserved as a historical building.
The only good thing about it is that I'm sure it pissed off my rude neighbors.


Hilary said...

That's a great story. And good for you and J for looking after your feathered friends... not to mention the tree trimmer. :)

Kappa no He said...

Victoria, so good to see you! Yep. They are gone. I suspect the crows got them. Poor Gloria shows up every couple days looking for them. Breaks my heart.

Imomo, I have a sarusuberi that a bird, um, brought (dropped?) for me. It's deep pink and I didn't cut it back in the autumn (as I was directed to do by neighbors). I think I'll just let it grow out per your advice and see what happens. And I love kinmokusei. Your old house sounds amazing. I wish I could have seen it. Why does everything beautiful have to be torn down?

Hilary, I'm hoping some foliage will grow back this summer and we'll get some more baby bird action.

Kappa no He said...
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Kappa no He said...
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slommler said...

What a fabulous story! I could use his services here. I have two trees that need a good trimming. What a blessing! And congrats on your new pigeon babies. That is super that she hung in there!!
Congrats on your POTW award
PS I just read where they are gone sad is that? Sorry!!

Tabor said...

Congrats on your POTW. A lovely story and I really felt sorry for the man. I also hope that the shelter from son and rain that the dove lost doesn't hurt the little ones.

Dianne said...

I don't get naked trees either
and how can you not love a bird's nest

I'm thrilled for Mama Gloria and her babies

I used to work near a place where they trained pigeons
It was amazing to look out the window and see them flying in formation while an elderly man below waved a giant flag at them

and they always came home

congrats on POTW

Cricket said...

My wife and I purposely held off pruning our oak until a nest of robins fledged. Got a few good pictures before they did, too.

This is a great story on several levels. Congratulations on a well deserved potw.

Land of shimp said...

Well hello! What a fun story, the nimble, if aged, tree trimmer showing up at your door like the tree whisperer.

I'm afraid I've waged a long war against pigeons that were trying to nest in the eave directly outside of my office. I'm not friend to the pigeon world -- well, actually, I suppose that's debatable since I refused to let them be killed, and it took the better part of a year to get them to go away.

But at our old homestead we were Robin nesting central, and watched over the nests and chicks like they were our pets. Key difference is that Robins raise their little ones, and then all fly away. Pigeons move in for the duration.

Sorry Gloria lost her little ones, but you may not actually want several generations of pigeons calling your tree home. Or perhaps you do.

If this were a comic book, you and I would be the dark and light side of some bird talking star. After exposure to some grievous form of radiation, you'd turn into Dark Whomever, and don a more threatening costume.

Yup, I always get way too fanciful after this much coffee. Now I need to go and check the microwave for suspicious leaks, and the closet for suspicious lycra ;-)

Thank you for the tale of the tree trimmer, I thought it was wonderfully told. I also thought the picture was perfectly fitting. As if you'd caught the spirit of the trees in action :-)

Daryl said...

Congrats on POTW mention from Hilary

deb said...

congrats on the POTW from Hilary.

and I was nervous for you, you are so trusting !

as a part time garden maintenance person,
I do like a tree that is cleared of too many limbs, but that seems a little drastic.

Kappa no He said...

Slommler, thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I'm still pretty sad about the babes.

Tabor, I haven't seen the old man since. He was such a sweet, feisty guy. I hope he visits again.

Dianne, that is so cool about the pigeon training. I use to joke with my husband that I was going to train the chicks and start my own little mail service.

Cricket, I didn't trim it for four years (much to the chagrin of my neighbors and mother-in-law) for that exact reason. But this year it was so bushy that I didn't realize she had laid eggs. I bet you got some adorable photos of the robins.

Land of Shrimp, I didn't know that about robins and pigeons!

I like that, "the light and dark side of some bird talking star"! You know, our microwave is kinda old...and does make a high-pitched whining sound...hmm....

I think the reason I was okay with this pigeon moving in is because we mostly just have sparrows and I rarely see pigeons in our neighborhood. If there were flocks of the little guys I might not be so excited.

Daryl, thanks!

Deb, yeah, I called my husband and he was like, You did what?! We have a beagle who wouldn't harm a soul but barks, so I figured if nothing else if this man *was* a robber of some sort my dog would make him stop for some tea and biscuits and I could nab him when I got home.

Drastic for sure! I need to do a post just about neighborhood trees. Quite stunning!

järnebrand said...

What a great story! I love trees. And birds, too. (Even though too many pigeons at the same time kind of freaks me out...)
Why get rid of so many branches on that tree, though, was that really necessary? I mean, the poor pigeon won't be getting any privacy now... ;)
Great post! Congrats on the POTW!

Kappa no He said...

Exactly! I still don't quite get why trees need to be trimmed so drastically. Luckily this tree fills out pretty quickly.

Mary Witzl said...

Great story! I got really nervous, wondering if you were going to get scammed or burgled by an octogenarian. (Which in itself would have made a great story, though, don't you think?)

We used to let our trees get really 'natural' in Chiba, no doubt irritating our neighbors. But we had loads of beasties in our trees and hedges, including snakes and toads, so it was definitely worth it.

laughingwolf said...

neat tale, terrie... you let your good heart show... again ;)