July 2, 2017
We live in a townhouse with 91 other units in clusters of from four to six. We pay a monthly fee to have the front landscaping done in season and/or the walks shoveled when it snows. When we first moved here, I had a deal with the groundskeeper. He would not interfere with my landscaping and I would do everything. In the course of time, he left and we have outfits that come and do the work facelessly, that is, without the opportunity to give any instruction or feedback. If I see them approaching my yard, I shoo them away because there are no weeds and they don’t need to touch it. (Pretty plants; no room for weeds. Shaved buddleia top center.)
One day a few weeks ago, I didn’t see them come and didn’t tell them to ignore my place. So someone with instructions to make all the bushes look round and clipped took the trimmer to my yard. They ruined my buddleia bush, trimmed my lovely campanula along the walk and even clipped the flowers off my astilbe in pots just as they were about to display their pastel lavender feathers. (See below right. No flowers.)
I was very upset when I saw the damage. The front yards do not “belong” to us. They are owned by the association. I was relieved they didn’t touch my Rose of Sharon tree just today opening a few of the hundreds of blossoms it will display during the rest of the summer. If you have cared for and loved plants, you know that they are not just objects but are something like pets. I prune and fertilize them. I deadhead and plant annuals in pots. The shaving of my flowers hurt me.
I fumed. The damage was done. Yes, if I could protect them and fend off the “gardeners” they would grow back next year. My buddleia may even still produce some blooms this summer. But I wanted to do remedy the situation. (Maybe it was “retaliate.”)
So I wrote a letter to the association. The first version was a vent of my anger and was really vitriolic. However, I wanted someone to pay attention to my complaint, so I neatly edited to a few choice sentences calming it down to only calling the trimmer operator an “idiot.” I couldn’t really say much about my buddleia because that is planted in the ground. But they certainly should not have touched my pots. At least half of the homeowners have improved upon the plain vanilla landscaping in their front area, and over 33% set out pots.
My neighbor who is the president of the association said, “I was disappointed in you when I read the note. Why didn’t you talk to me?” It never occurred to me. He spends too much time on this volunteer job as it is. For another thing, since my voice broke, I avoid speaking to others more than necessary. Gary will tell you that I still speak more than necessary, but we work out our few mutual trespasses without notes after starting the second half of 54 years together.
The point is that I was wrong. The man with the trimmer was only a man hired to work, not to know about flowers. We have lived in this home for 22 years, now, and the days when I had a personal and friendly relationship with the gardener were over some years ago. These men belong to a company hired to make our homes look uniformly cared for and no more.
I think my overt reaction is a symptom of the times when people trash each other and bully and tell lies on the public media where the written word becomes a weapon. I bought into it without thinking that even the edited note I sent certainly didn’t befit the Christian I profess to be.
I open up the internet and see complaints and dirt about famous people, especially President Trump and his family. I watch on TV the way the world seems to be more and more violent. I read Time magazine because I ought to know what’s happening in the world and register how people have lost civility. I am sorry that I myself reflected the bitter and mean spirit that I see multiplying and being acted out publicly. I am warned. I am determined to resist. I must remember the power of the written word to wound and to convey permanently what my momentary pique might be. PMA
July 2, 2017