Supergenius vs. The Trees (or who stands talking to a strange man with a saw in his hand?)

Each morning as I approach the gates of Hell, Inc. I have to do a drunken bob and weave up the sidewalk to avoid getting scratched by the delightful crabapple tree that line the walk.

I don’t bat the low-hanging branches away from my face, because it just seems really angry. And, hell, I am going to work I don’t need my actions to match my inner turmoil.

But this morning as I bobbed and wove through the branches, I had one of those lightning quick flashbacks that stunned me not only with its specificity but with just idea that I remembered something so random from 100 years ago.

It was late spring in Eau Claire, my sophomore year. I was a young lass of 19 or 20 who had to park two or three blocks from campus because there was no parking on campus. As I made my way to class, there was an older man standing on the sidewalk in front of his house with a saw in his hand.

From about a block away I watched as he trimmed the branches from a tree that lined the walk. I walked by and we did the polite, Midwestern nod and half smile to acknowledge each other’s existence.

I got about four steps away when he shouted, “Hey, can you come back here?”

Because I was 19 I didn’t think twice about hanging out on the sidewalk with a strange man holding a saw, and turned around to see what he wanted.

“How tall are you?” he asked.
“6’3″,” I said, because that was back in the glory days when I was 6’3″. Somehow over the next three years, I would grow another two inches.
“Could you walk under this tree?” He asked.

I ducked my head and walked under the branches. The old man sawed at a few branches and asked me to walk under again. I still had to duck.

“The city says that our branches need to be at least six feet [or something like that] from the ground,” he said. “So people can walk under them.”
I nodded.
“But if pretty girls are getting taller. I might as well make them a little higher.”

I should have tongue-kissed the old man with the saw. But instead I just thanked him and went off to class.

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