Can I Chip Your Tree?

BUD: My daughter arrived during an unseasonably warm winter week.

KEVIN: I’m late.

BUD: The tulips bloomed in our neighbor’s yard.

KEVIN: I leave early but I arrive late.

BUD: And I carried her up the driveway in a basket. The cherry tree blossoms glowed in the pale dusk light.

KEVIN: In between those two points – I don’t know what happens. I listen to the radio. I drive. I wait behind a half-mile line of cars at a stop sign. The row advances car length by length. That stop and start is how every one of my days begins.

BUD: I don’t mean to interrupt you—

KEVIN: I can’t talk now. I’m sorry. I’m late. Didn’t I tell you I was late?

BUD: I’ve been meaning to talk to you.

KEVIN: The garbage is out of hand, I know. We accumulate trash. Every morning I take out a bag of trash. I don’t enter the house with anything—

BUD: I don’t want to delay you—

KEVIN: —and I come out with a bag stuffed with trash. Spontaneous generation is what it is.

BUD: I would like to talk to you about your tree.

KEVIN: It’s a cedar tree. I take a lungful of it every morning as I wipe the dew from the windshields of the car. It reminds me of my childhood. I grew up in a little house under a Western Red Cedar just like this.

BUD: Can I talk to you about that tree?

KEVIN: That moment in the morning is the only moment of peace I know. Look, I’m late.

BUD: I won’t take more than a minute of your time.

KEVIN: I’m so late that I don’t know if another minute will make a difference. I might actually arrive at work sooner if I delay. Once, I left a half an hour later and I arrived an hour sooner.

BUD: That tree is ripping up the sidewalk on my side of the fence. You’ve seen what the city has done down the block?

KEVIN: I did. They parked their wood chipper in the middle of the road. It caused endless delays.

BUD: Can I cut down that cedar?

KEVIN: I’m sorry. I’m really running late.

BUD: You don’t have to answer now. I just wanted to mention it. I’ve been meaning to catch you.

KEVIN: And today I left late and so you were able to get a hold of me.

BUD: I will replace the tree. It was a little thing when they planted it. It went in during an unseasonably warm week the middle of winter. That week, your cherry tree thought spring had come. A million white blossoms. My daughter was born that week. And the people who lived in the house then planted a tree. They planted that tree.

KEVIN: I’m thankful to them. I depend on this tree. It is just getting to that size when it will really be a tree.

BUD: I really would like it down.

KEVIN: I don’t know.

BUD: I’ve been meaning to catch you. But you drive away so quickly. Please? Can we work this out now?

KEVIN: I need time for rumination. I like the tree. And I’m late.

BUD: My daughter died last year.

KEVIN: I’m sorry. My condolences, if that is meaningful to you coming from a complete stranger.

BUD: We’re neighbors.

KEVIN: I mean anything I say would pale in comparison to what you’ve been through. I don’t know anything about death. It’s not something I was encouraged to study in school. I’ve been to one funeral in my life. Death in my experience has been something happens to other people. So, I’m sorry.

BUD: Thank you.

KEVIN: You have to keep the tree then. If it was planted to honor your daughter, it should live.

BUD: You don’t understand.

KEVIN: I’m not trying to understand. I can’t understand what you’ve gone through.

BUD: I want the tree removed.

KEVIN: In a few years the tree will really be something. I don’t have to see any of the neighbors in that direction. In the morning while my car warms and I prepare for my drive through limbo itself, I can listen to the blue jays holler from its boughs just as they did in the cedar trees in the forest around the house where I grew up. That forest is gone now. They built a subdivision. Called it Cedar Grove.

BUD: I want the trunk knocked into rounds and split into cordwood. I want the stump chipped. I want the roots pulled. I don’t want there to be evidence of this tree. And I will not rest until this median is a pad of Kentucky blue grass.

KEVIN: This is my property.

BUD: That is why I’ve waited until I could ask you.

KEVIN: I’m sorry about your loss.

BUD: It was an unseasonably cold day. I had always told her, watch out for the black ice.

KEVIN: But why do you have to make your loss my loss?

BUD: She said that ice doesn’t have a color. And I said black isn’t a color. Black is the color of no color.

KEVIN: I need time think about it.

BUD: I’ve waited for you long enough. I need you to answer now.

KEVIN: It is almost a really very nice tree. It has just turned from a bush, don’t you see, into a real and proper tree. It will take years for another tree to get to this size.

BUD: I know how old the tree is.

KEVIN: Did they – the people who planted the tree – plant a seedling or a tree?

BUD: It was little tree.

KEVIN: So the tree is really a little older than your daughter already. There is no need to cut it down. Their ages do not correspondence exactly. The tree doesn’t have to mean what you think it means.

BUD: Do you intend to keep this tree that is ripping up my sidewalk and growing into the power lines?

KEVIN: It’s my tree. I like this tree. I suppose if you replaced this tree with a tree of exactly the same size I would get the same use of out it.

BUD: I am willing to buy a replacement but I won’t be able to buy a tree of this size.

KEVIN: I had to wait years and years of this tree to reach this size.

BUD: You didn’t live here. You just bought this house. You don’t know anything about how long it took this tree to grow.

KEVIN: A year ago. I bought the house a year ago. I have some idea about the age of trees. This is my tree.

BUD: We are neighbors. We share a fence I painted a coat of 20 year white enamel paint and that you haven’t even painted. We share this tree that the occupants of this house planted to remind us of our daughter. She died the week you moved here.

KEVIN: I not sure you and I agree about the definition of “neighborly.” But I have made up my mind anyway.

BUD: It will provide me much peace.

KEVIN: You can kill my tree if that will make you happy. You can chip my tree if that is what will provide you peace. It’s the neighborly thing to do. It’s no trouble.

BUD: Thank you.

KEVIN: It will save me time in the morning dallying in my front yard remembering the things that happened a long time ago under the sent of a cedar tree.

BUD: It will make you more efficient. You won’t be late.

KEVIN: I’m late.

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