Albion Recorder & Morning Star Columns

Looking Out

“Admit it. You’re a pruning freak,” says my beloved wife Marsha with a pretty smile.

            “I do enjoy trimming things,” I say. “But I’m not abnormal about it.”

            “Wait a minute,” she says. “I appreciate that you give our landscaping good haircuts, but…”

            “But what?” I say. “The weigela, the boxwood, the burning bushes, the forsythia, the trees—everything. They all demand regular attention. So what if I spend a little time now and then tending to horticultural business?”

            “But…” she says. “Remember two summers ago when we spent a few days in Saugatuck? Biking on the trails there?”

            “Of course,” I say. “Lovely trails.”

            “You pruned them,” says Marsha, as if that were a bad thing.

            “Somebody had to,” I say.

            “But all the way from Saugatuck to Holland?” she says.

            “The trail was overgrown,” I say.

            “You. Are. A. Pruning. Freak,” she says. “I mean, who  else carries a pair of pruning shears on their bicycle?” 

            “I just like to do my civic duty,” I say.

            “Right. While I’m stopped on the trail waiting for you?” she says.

            “It didn’t take long,” I say.

            “Let’s talk about this morning,” she says. “You went for a 10 mile ride.”

            “Eleven,” I correct.

            “And how fast do you ride when you’re alone?” she asks.

            “Oh, probably between 10 and 20 miles per hour, depending on wind and hills.”

            “So you rode 11 miles and it took you two hours?” she says.

            “I had a lot of pruning to do,” I say.

            “BINGO!” she says. “Pruning freak.”

            “I did stop carrying my whisk broom in my bike bag,” I say.

            “I’ll bet you keep it close, though,” she says.

            “Yes. It’s in the cabinet by my bicycle,” I say. “Just in case I need it.”

            “Who carries a whisk broom on their bike?” she says.

            “Me. But only sometimes,” I say. “When I see broken glass on the roads and trails.”

            “Uh huh,” she says, giving me The Look-Version #78.2.

            “Beats the heck out of fixing flat tires,” I say.

            “Do you realize that if you ever signed up for one of those Pacific-to-Atlantic cross-country bike tours it would take you four years?” she says.

            “The route would be in better shape when I finished,” I say.

            “Maybe you should modernize and carry a weed wacker and a leaf blower,” she says.

            “It’s really too bad that nobody makes a pedal powered street sweeper,” I say.

            “Just what you need!” she laughs.

            “Listen,” I say. “I’ve enjoyed this conversation, but I have to go outside. I have work to do.”

            “Pruning?” she says.

            “Weeding,” I say.

            “Question: Do you carry a hoe on your bike?” she says.

            “Of course not,” I say.  

            “Maybe you should. You never know when you’ll spot a weed along the road.”    

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