Autumnal transformation buys impressive tree a little time

This Just In...

October 28, 2002|By Dan Rodricks

A FRIEND has a love-hate thing with a maple tree. It has grown too large for the front lawn on which it stands. It is a massive umbrella blocking out the sun. I've been standing there as landscape professionals have warned gloomily that the grass on my friend's front lawn would never grow thick and luxurious, like his neighbor's, until the maple comes down.

The branches need to be trimmed away from the house every couple of years. One of these days, the roots are going to burst right through the stone foundation of the house. Leaves fall into the rain gutters and cause another problem. It's a pain.

My friend likes trees -- he's pretty much an arboreal hugger, to tell the truth -- but every summer he considers cutting the maple down. He's even gone to the bother of getting estimates from tree-removal experts.

Then comes fall -- and the redemption of the maple -- and my friend changes his mind. It's an annual ritual.

So, we were standing on his front lawn Saturday, letting autumn take hold of our senses, and we looked up and admired the burnt-orange and bright-yellow leaves -- the ones still in the tree, the ones covering the lawn and turning it into a splashy carpet, even the ones settling into the rain gutters -- and all the grousing and sour-pussing about the tree seemed petty and ridiculous. The tree stays -- at least one more year.

At least they're honest

Cereal Mom, reporting from the waterfront, says: "We saw a cabin cruiser docked at a slip in Canton. The name of the boat was Nev'r Satisfied. And it had a for-sale sign in the window! My husband [Cereal Dad] says the owner should call his next boat Damn it, This One Ain't It Either.

`Columnists for excess'

TJI reader Devra Kitterman says: "I am laughing out loud -- at `Another Democrat for Ehrlich' bumper stickers on the back of cars that also display `Bentley For Congress' and old Sauerbrey and Bush stickers." ... The Ehrlich campaign has a lot of specialized bumper stickers -- "Veterans For Ehrlich," "Police Officers for Ehrlich," "Cranberry Growers for Ehrlich," "Mickey Steinberg and other Has-Been Democratic Pols for Ehrlich." ... Sorry, but the Kathleen K. Townsend campaign is boring. When are we going to see Uncle Teddy in a tutu dancing the Electric Slide at a fund-raiser? That's what I want to know.

Elegy for Attman ...

I had my first corned beef sandwich at Attman's since the death in early summer of the owner, Seymour Attman. The corned beef was as good as ever, and it was nice to see all the familiar men and women who work the counter there, busy as ever. But I'd put off going to the deli since June, and now I know the reason -- too sad to go to an old, familiar place and not see an old, familiar face. You are missed, Seymour, you mensch.

... and Dawson, family

At the funeral Thursday of Angel Dawson and her children, Mayor Martin O'Malley could not have offered more fitting words than those he selected from nearly 40 years ago -- the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s eulogy for the four young girls killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., in September 1963.

"This afternoon we gather in the quiet of this sanctuary to pay our last tribute of respect to these beautiful children of God," O'Malley quoted King. "These children -- unoffending, innocent, and beautiful -- were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.

"And yet they died nobly. They are the martyred [heroes] of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death. They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism. ...

"They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream.

"And so my friends, they did not die in vain. God still has a way of wringing good out of evil. And history has proven over and over again that unmerited suffering is redemptive. The innocent blood of these little [children] may well serve as a redemptive force that will bring new light to this dark city. The Holy Scripture says, `A little child shall lead them.' The death of these little children may lead our whole [land] from the low road of man's inhumanity to man to the high road of peace and brotherhood."

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