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We used to have a couple of very tall podocarpus trees just on the other side of our driveway. Because they were on the west side of the house, they provided a lot of lovely shade during the hot months. They also hid the air conditioning ducts on the top of the neighbors’ house, which is another story altogether. Their one drawback was a root system that kept them well-fed and turned the driveway into a jigsaw puzzle of irregular concrete pieces. They had to go.

It took a long time for me to agree to cutting down the two giants. It wasn’t a matter of money. It’s just that I’ve never handled hot weather well, and my instinct told me that our kitchen (with computer area) would feel the effects of the arboreal destruction the first day the late afternoon sun slanted in the west window, raising temps and tempers in tandem. I was promised awnings, if they proved absolutely necessary—and if they didn’t overhang the driveway and interfere with household traffic. It took a couple of trip-and-falls on the uneven concrete, though, before I realized that there really wasn’t a choice.

We called Heriberto and got a quote that was acceptable: Two trees, cut down and stumps ground out, and all the debris removed; he could do the work in the next couple of days. Once it was decided, I was pleased that the whole thing would get done quickly.

Heriberto and his crew came out and got right down to the job. Working on principles set down by my mother I, of course, had a good supply of sodas and cookies on hand for the workers, and a handful of coupons so we could run out and get them lunch at noontime. The guys had the trees topped and a truckload of branches feeding through the shredder within a couple of hours. By the end of that day, the workers were tired and I was tired just watching them. The stumps, about a foot high, were still in the ground and Heriberto looked at them and shook his head.

“These are hidden behind this little hedge, you know. They probably wouldn’t be in the way at all if we just left them there.” There was a question in his voice, but not much hope.

“Nope. You promised stump grinding, remember. We’ll see you tomorrow.” My smile was pleasant, I’m sure.

The next morning he brought his very efficient, very loud rented machine and ground the stumps out. They leveled the dirt and cleaned everything up nicely. We tipped him well. It was worth it.

Sure enough, the weather has turned warm, not unusual for July, and I do miss the shade of the podocarpus trees. But the sun sets in the west every night, and all that empty space gives me a fantastic view from my computer chair while I sit here and try to come up with some finished stories.

We should have done it years ago. Now, about that driveway…

I’ll see you again, after the commercial.

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