Berries & Concrete by Liora Leah .....

Fifth of eight stories in the Yard Notes series, in loving memory of my father. Our huge and lovely Brazilian pepper tree dominates the backyard landscape planted by my father 48 years ago.

Date:   9/5/2007 3:38:59 AM ( 14 y ago)

Photo by Liora Leah, August 2007


Berries & Concrete

Along with the three fichus trees that stand next to the falling-down backyard grape stake fence and the plum tree whose roots are lifting up the concrete patio, another tree dominates the backyard landscape planted by Dad: our huge and lovely Brazilian pepper tree.

Two autumns ago I had the tree trimmers come out for the trees’ yearly “haircut” as Dad liked to call it. Some of the cut branches from the Brazilian pepper fell into my water-waster next door neighbor’s backyard, oh-he-of-the-lush-green-lawn variety. He was a little put out, and came over to complain about the mess. I followed him into his backyard to see what he was talking about. The neighbor’s backyard, except for the few tree trimmings from our Brazilian pepper tree that now graced his outdoor, built-in, polished, stainless steel barbeque grill, was immaculate. This neighbor had built an addition onto the back of the house, so there wasn’t much backyard left. What was there was mostly a smooth, perfectly flat, concrete patio. A few very well trimmed bushes and small trees filled the bit of dirt strip that ran between the concrete patio and the block wall he and his backyard neighbor had erected. I didn’t see one leaf on the ground, nor speck of dirt, besides what our tree had contributed.

After surveying the “mess” our tree trimmings had made, I told him that I’d be happy to clean up the fallen branches for him; I guess this embarrassed him, as he answered that, no, I didn’t have to do that, why don’t I call the tree service and have them come and clean up the mess? After agreeing to do so, I turned to leave. On my way out of his yard, he said to me “if you want to cut down that pepper tree of yours, I’d be glad to come over and help.”

I looked at him, stupefied. I guessed that the little red berries that cluster on our pepper tree fall into his yard on occasion, and onto his nice, shiny grill. If you step on the berries, they will stain your concrete, although I didn’t notice any berry stains on his patio. I managed to squeeze out of my throat “my father planted that tree over forty years ago, when it was a sapling.” He said, “well, I guess he won’t want to cut it down anytime soon, then.” “No, I don’t think so,” I replied.

I went out into my own backyard, over to the Brazilian pepper tree, and put my arms around it. “Never mind,” I said, “forget what he said about cutting you down. You’re a beautiful tree, and it’s ok to keep dropping your berries wherever you want to! I love you.” The breeze picked up, and the pepper tree rustled its leaves and branches in response.

Just a few weeks ago, I noticed that the next door neighbor has a “For Sale” sign up in front of his house. The 48 year old Brazilian pepper tree, as lovely and as berry-dropping as ever, has outlasted him.

Yard Notes Introduction:  First Things First

First of eight stories in the Yard Notes series: Tools & Sweat

Second story in the series: Grass & Water

Third story:  Dandelions & Snails

Fourth story: Trees & Fence

Sixth story: Tree Dreams

Seventh story:  Star Jasmine

Eighth story:  Monster Plants



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