I'M ELABORATING. I'M going back in time--to finish up the story of St. Patrick's Day. Something came up...er, uh, I mean something came down...to prevent an earlier telling.
We left Philadelphia, my yard man chauffeur and I, and headed home. Our day in Philadelphia could hardly have been better! The mood at South Street had been an Irish TEN! The weather had shone!
Most of our drive took us through the countryside and the night was glowing, that effulgent moon in the sky shining over the peaceful fields. Yes, I was raving about it all.
And our good fortune stayed with us right up to the driveway of our house, where a big old truck from the power company sat flashing its lights, and the telephone pole across the road reached toward our property at an unhealthy pitch. "Whoa, what's going on here!?" my yard man exclaimed. And, as though in answer, the PPL* truck driver opened his window. "Is this your property?" he asked.
"A really big tree came down from the neighbor's yard!" he explained. Then he added, "It missed the house! It missed the barn! It missed your truck! Lucky for you!"
Now, Dear Reader, I should tell you the house next door is empty. The aunt of my yard man lived there for many long years (she recently went to a retirement home; the house is for sale). The oak tree, however, had lived there for a whole lot more years! Every now and then it would drop a limb, as if to say, "Hey, look out below! I'm getting old! Better have me cut up and cremated before I fall on you!" The yard man knew that tree had to come down, but he'd been delaying.
The guy in the truck told us he'd be back later.
He said the phone company would have to come deal with the tree. They would have to remove at least part of the trunk so that the electric company could get to the transformer, so that they could repair it, so that we could have electric service restored.
Okay, we said. Then we carefully drove in the lower driveway. (Another stroke of luck--we've got a driveway that wraps around the house.) There to greet us was a massive pile of limbs and branches--the former top of the tree.
It was 8:45 p.m.
The house was dark and chilly. I lit a few candles, and we wandered around, instinctively reaching for the light switches. I had to watch the yard man like a hawk to keep his hands off the fridge and freezer. No, no! Keep those doors closed!
We dozed awhile, waiting for rescue. At 10:30 we gave up and went to bed.
At 11:07 the trucks arrived, beeping and flashing.
There was a loud knock at the door. Help had arrived!
At first it was exciting--running out into the chilly night (the temperature
had fallen precipitously). There were three trucks, like big noisy stallions, snorting and pawing as they stood at the ready; six brawny knights, their yellow shields reflecting back the brilliant moonlight, their swords (looking so much like chain saws) in hand; the massive tree trunk--that (already dead) dragon to be conquered!
But then, there was much conferring as to strategy,
while the yard man and I stood waiting for action.
I started getting cold. My romantic notions about
knights in armor were getting slayed. I wished to go
inside a warm house with lights and other electric-
Eventually, however, the ramparts were stormed--
men swarmed all over the treetop, chain saws
whining. They worked their way up to the trunk,
cutting limbs, tossing small branches.
When they reached the trunk it was 12:23 a.m.
The trunk! Even if it wasn't a dragon, we could
see this was going to be tricky! Only one man had
a chain saw large enough to meet the challenge,
and that saw would have to be carefully wielded.
A lot more strategizing had to go on.
"There's just enough weight on there..." My yard
man was giving me a blow-by-blow account of the
dangers these men were facing.
"That's what happens, you see! " he told me
when the saw actually did get stuck.
About 2:15 a man in a red sweatshirt showed up.
"He's the boss," my yard man informed me. (He
was just guessing, but I'd deduced the same thing.)
Okay, now we were into the wee hours; it was really quite cold outside
Lyrics to the tune of the chain saw went something like this:
Did you hear a maniacal laugh?
You're not gonna sleep tonight!
With the falling tree and the aftermath,
No, you're not gonna sleep tonight!
Bwa ha ha! Bwa ha ha ha!
By the bright moonlight, I know it ain't right,
but you're not gonna sleep tonight!!
At 2:33 a.m. the yard man decided he wouldn't
listen to the lyrics. He was going back to bed!
I watched the maneuvers a few minutes longer and then
followed suit. And, wow! Amazing to see how quickly
that yard man could start to saw wood, in spite of the real wood-sawing!
But...alas, as for me, those lyrics just kept running through my head!
I couldn't shut them out. Even when the chain saws stopped playing,
the noise went on.
I was wide awake when the little space heater in the bedroom
roused to life, and the lights came on! It was 3:36 a.m.
I gave a great sigh of relief. Now! I thought,
Now I'll go to sleep!
Oh, but...those trucks were still here.
It wasn't until 3:47 a.m. they went
snorting and pawing...er, chugging
up the road.
For a long time after that I lay
pondering the luck o' the Irish!
and wondering what the time
would be, if and when I
(*Pennsylvania Power and Light Co., Dear Reader--
oh, so fortunately, they own the electric lines!)