June 08, 2002  |  My lady

In the morning I walk with my host lady to the car, which is parked on the backstreet, to go to the grocery store. "We have to walk across the neighbor's garden," she said, and we do, over the perfectly manicured Swiss lawn. At the gate she tests the latch and says "oh no, you see sometimes they lock it," and proceed to swing her leg over the fense, then jump down on the otherside. I smile to myself then follow her, more clumsily, then ask why her own gate, some 10 yards away, couldn't be used. "It's rusted shut, you see, well I could use it, but sometimes it's just easier to use the neighbor's, and they don't complain." Later at dinner, we admire the view of the hills from her bay window. Commenting on a tree in the garden that for me was part of the landscape, my host tells me it belongs to the neighbor, and she occasionally cuts down branches at night because she doesn't want it to block the view. "I love to cut down trees at night," she laughs, "big branches, but you could never tell they have been cut." I think of a 62-year-old woman amputating trees in the night and disposing bodies of evidence, all in the communal backyard, and I say, "but, but couldn't they hear you?" "No, they're old, you see," she pauses, "and I buy this green sticky stuff that you can use to cover up..." I'm staring at her now, and as she went on to say she thinks its better for the tree as it's a kind of pruning that's ultimately good for it and for the neighbors, I ask, "wouldn't the neighbors like that you're doing this, if you just asked them?" "No, you see, some people you just couldn't talk reason to them..." I look at this woman with her lightening-struck frizzy hair in amazement, and understood why the neighbors haven't been greeting us. Yet I'm enjoying her company and her friendship all the more.

Posted by yingzhao 02:32 PM | Permalink
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