• John R

Danger Zone

It’s the scariest time of year. It’s late winter nudging into early spring. It’s too early for cleanup, and all trimming and pruning was completed the previous fall. That means our yard waste bin is sitting empty.


Scarier still: it’s Sunday. Thirty-six hours to go.



An empty yard waste bin means that when the yard waste truck comes around on its every-other-Tuesday circuit, we will not have anything for the truck to haul away. And that means our monthly yard-waste fee of $4.35 is basically going for naught. And a going-for-naught bin does not sit well with my better half.


So on Sunday, with a scant 36 hours to end the naught-iness of our yard waste bin, Deb stands forlornly at the back patio door, a pair of clippers in her hand. She’s absently squeezing the handles and the tool is making little squeaking noises, Eep eep! Eep eep! It’s all very Stephen Kingish.

She desperately wants to cut something down—anything will do—in order not to waste our monthly fee. And although I admire her consumer advocacy, I fear for our plants. She’s scanning for victims, something a little too bushy or limby. I often suggest that all plants be spared on account of anything that manages to survive in our yard is a very good thing and removing them will likely result in a barren patch of raw dirt or the appearance of some volunteer plant that will turn out to rank very high on the federal list of invasive species. When I make those requests, she invariably ripostes that I am hardly a font of gardening know-how.


“That one bush is really getting big,” she murmurs. Eep, eep.


“That’s a nice plant and it’s beginning to get little flowers on it.” No font indeed!


“What’s the name of it?”


Good question! “It’s a mock turquoise,” I quickly respond, knowing you can usually get people to believe your BS if you keep a straight face. Be aware, however, that spouses are equipped with excellent BS detectors.


“I don’t see any turquoise.”


“Berries. In the fall.”


“Hmmm. Well, what about that tree? Do we really need an entire tree?”


This usually goes on for a while until we inevitably resolve to surrender our unrequited $4.35 to the yard waste company, with vows to recoup the loss by overfilling the bin whenever we can. This mollifies Deb somewhat, and she decides to fetch some newly appeared jonquils to get the twitch out of her cutting hand.


Jonquils are good survivors and—fortunately for us—the plants will tolerate overcrowding and neglect and overzealous harvesting. They’re sort of jolly flowers, mouths wide open with goofy grins, and they’re especially good for bringing a little taste of early spring inside the house. So thanks, hon. And let me have those clippers—I’ll oil them up for you.




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