"May I help you?" I asked.
"How about I lighten up that tree?"
"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."
"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?