I live in a small town and in a very nice, quiet neighborhood. The town only has one Minit Mart, no chain restaurants, no grocery stores and no place to shop. I never dreamed I would ever live in a town this small, but twelve years ago, I made the move. This town is so small, everybody knows everybody and most are kin to just about everyone here. Although I have lived here for twelve years, I still don’t know very many people. I know the people I use to work with, my neighbors, the people at the bank, people who work at the Minit Mart, and LP’s family, but other than that, I don’t know anybody. But, it seems like everyone knows me.
A couple of months after I had moved here, I went to cast my vote on election day. I was amazed at how short the line was because I had been use to waiting for an hour sometimes just to vote. When I got there, I think there may have been three people in front of me. I waited until it was my turn, then when I approached the lady sitting at the desk, I held out my identification. I didn’t know the lady and I still don’t know who she is, but she smiled and said, “Oh; there’s no need to show me that; I know who you are.” She pointed to my name on the list and said, “Just sign here.” It has been like that for twelve years; everybody knows me, but I don’t know them.
I remember the first week after LP and I had moved into the house. LP was working second shift, and I had an accounting job in a town about 35 miles from here. After work one evening, my next door neighbor, Tom, came over and welcomed me to the neighborhood. We talked for a couple of minutes and then he left. Tom looked like he was in his mid-thirtys and he had a wife and a small child. All my neighbors seemed nice and although we were neighbors, we kept our distance.
Every day after work, I would come home; crank up the radio and work on getting the house in order. We didn’t have a lawn mower at the time, so we hired a neighborhood kid to mow the lawn. I had noticed Tom’s lawn was getting high, so I just assumed he didn’t have a mower either. After the kid had finished with our yard, I suggested that if he wanted to earn some extra money, he should go next door and ask Tom if he needed his yard mowed. Evidently, Tom had a mower; he just hadn’t used it in quite some time. Two weeks had gone by and the kid had mowed our lawn twice. Tom still had not mowed his, and by this time, his grass was getting really high.
The following Saturday morning, I was cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast and I kept hearing a noise. I couldn’t figure out what it was or where it was coming from so I looked out the window. I noticed an older man weedeating around Tom’s house. This man had to have been almost seventy years old, if not older. I went on about my business and I kept hearing this weedeater and it went on and on and on. It was beginning to get on my nerves and I thought, “My God. How long is he going to weedeat?” I looked out the window again, and I will be damned if he wasn’t weedeating Tom’s entire front yard. And it looked terrible because it was all uneven and the grass had gotten so high, what had been weedeated looked like straw laying on the ground. Until that point in my life, I had never seen anyone weedeat an entire yard.
LP and I had a friend who lived about five miles down the road. This friend had a horse and one day she came riding up on her horse to visit us. Our property and Tom’s property was divided by four Bradford Pear trees and several Pine trees. Our friend got off her horse and tied the reins to one of the Bradford Pear trees and came into the house. We talked for a few minutes and then I noticed her horse was moving around. We went outside and the horse had broken the small branch that it had been tied to. I got the cutting shears and trimmed the broken branch. About that time, Tom came out of his house and walked over and said, “Those are my trees you know.” I said, “No, I didn’t know that. Well, your tree had a broken branch and it was hanging down on my driveway, so I cut it off.” Now, I don’t know if that was the beginning of our not talking to each other or not, but we seldom spoke after that.
I hated those damn Bradford Pears. They shed leaves year round and the branches were always hanging down in my driveway. One day when I got home from work, I pulled into the driveway and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t care what Tom had said, those limbs had to be trimmed. He couldn’t even mow his lawn, so I was certain he wouldn’t trim the trees. Besides, I had to cut the branches, unless I wanted to park my vehicle out in the street. I started cutting the branches. Not just trimming them this time. No, I was sawing off entire branches. After I had sawed off two branches, Tom came out of his house. He walked over and looked at “his” trees and said, “You know; those pine trees are yours. They could use some trimming too.” I looked at the pine trees, and I thought about it. Now, all these freaking trees are on the property line, but only the Bradford Pears were his. This didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. So, I looked at Tom and said, “So, did you plant these Bradford Pears?” He said, “No; they were already here when we moved in.” I said, “So, I assume you didn’t plant the Pine trees either.” He said, “Oh no. I would never plant Pine trees.” And I thought to myself, “Hell you can’t even mow your lawn, so how the hell could you plan a tree?” I was pretty aggravated at this point, so in order for me not to say something I would regret, I just shook my head in disbelief and walked off. I was so mad about those Bradford Pears and every time I looked at them I thought about Tom and if they were “his” trees then “he” needed to trim them and rake all the leaves.
Then one night we had a terrible storm. It had been thundering and lightening and the wind had been blowing like crazy. This went on all night long and the next morning when I woke up, it was quiet and the rain had stopped. I got ready to go to work and just when I opened my door to go outside, I saw two of the Bradford Pears laying on the ground. The wind must have blown them over, and how in the hell they didn’t fall on my car or Tom’s house was a miracle. One was laying across our driveway and all the way into our front yard, and the other was laying right next to their house. I looked at the tree in our driveway and thought, “Now how in the hell am I going to get that thing up?” Then I thought, “Hum, that’s not my tree!” So I marched right over to Tom’s house and knocked on the front door. Tom came to the door and I smiled and said, “That was a terrible storm last night. By the way, your tree’s in my driveway. Think you could move it so I can go to work?”
Tom never did like me very well, and believe me, I really didn’t like him either. They moved about three years after we had moved in. He did come out of his house that morning and he looked around. I remember commenting on how lucky we had been because the trees had not landed on their house nor my car. He looked at his house and pointed at the side window towards the front of the house and said, “Yes, we are lucky. That’s my little girl’s room.” Then he looked at me and said, “Well, I guess God takes care of children and idiots.” Now, I will let you figure out what Tom meant by that.