Adele Elliott: Urban renewal


Adele Elliott



According to Robert Frost, "Good fences make good neighbors." To that I might add -- only sometimes and with some neighbors.


Last week, my neighbor, "Farmer" Greg (whose alter-ego is really Doctor Greg), asked if he could put his tractor in our carport for a few days. That was no problem, since our car is in a repair shop somewhere in the Golden Triangle. I have no idea where it is; luckily, another friend, Scott Carley, is trying to help us diagnose the Volvo's mysterious illness. Let's just pretend that the car is away at a rest home or sanitarium and will soon return healthy and ready to drive.


The day of the tractor's relocation, I heard enough noise to believe that our backyard was undergoing a massive transformation. Greg decided to clear a jungle of grass and weeds that had overgrown bricks in the driveway and yard. He labored for hours in the mid-summer heat. It was an impressive undertaking, with the result that the yard looked better than it has in all of the time we have lived here.



Evidently Mother Nature was not pleased with Greg's efforts. The very next day, intense winds ripped two giant branches from the pecan tree, covering the yard with leaves, splinters, and enough wood to heat all the fireplaces in this area for about six months.


The noise of splitting wood brought neighbors from a block away to view the damage. Amazingly, my husband, Chris, slept through the disaster.


Robert Frost asks, "What I was walling in or walling out, and to whom I was like to give offence." I don't know about his wall, but I believe that the neat and tidy yard was offensive to nature.


Greg was undaunted. He pulled out his chainsaw and put the tractor back into use clearing the debris. Chris loaded up the basket, and Jyl Barefield, Greg's better half, drove the tractor up and down the driveway, making multiple trips to the curb with limbs.


I have no clue as to what we would have done if the tractor had remained at Greg's tree farm in Artesia. We would probably still be dragging the mess out to the street.


I suppose you could say that this story has a happy ending. No one was hurt, and the nest of woodpeckers that we were watching remained untouched in a branch just above the felled limbs.


Robert Frost said, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall." I am grateful every day that we have no walls between us and our neighbors, Jyl and Greg. I think I agree more with Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote, "A friend may well be the masterpiece of nature." But, I'll say that quietly. There's no reason to offend Mother Nature. She has a bad temper.



Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.


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