Yesterday I took a break from work to stroll along the Esplanade on the banks of the Charles River in Boston, and read Al Franken’s new book, “Al Franken: Giant of the Senate.” There was a stiff breeze, so after an hour or so I packed up my book and headed back to my postage stamp rental on Newbury Street.
There were a couple of years back in the late ’70s, when we–Cecily, my future wife, Poggi, our dog, and I–lived in a 500-square foot studio apartment on the fourth floor of 395 Beacon Street. It was only a block from the Esplanade, so twice a day everyday, I put Poggi on her leash and headed out there. One spring, the City of Boston, in its great wisdom, decided to plant dozens of flowering cherry trees. Without question, a wonderful idea. There are few things as beautiful as groves of flowering cherries, especially in such a charming location.
The problem with trees, however, is that, like other living things, they grow. And things that grow need taking care of. And the City of Boston apparently hadn’t considered that, because by the time fall rolled around, the trees were full of crossing branches, suckers, and shoots. If left like that, the trees would soon become eyesores rather than eye candy.
I’m not one who abides bureaucracy with grace and patience. I suppose I’m not alone in that regard. But maybe where I am a little different is that rather than deal with bureaucracy I tend to take matters into my own hands until someone says, “Stop.”
So one fine winter evening when the trees were dormant, I put on my old lime green parka and my bright orange ski cap (great for not getting shot during hunting season), and packing a lopping shears and pruning saw, went over to the Esplanade and got down to work. (I should mention here that pruning fruit trees is one of my passions. I knew what I was doing.)
After about 15 minutes, I was cautiously approached by one of Boston’s Finest. Fortunately, those weren’t the days of shoot first, ask later. He asked me what I thought I was doing, so I explained to him what a great service I was doing for the city of Boston, and how much taxpayers’ money I was saving. He didn’t totally buy it, but at least he no longer thought I was a derelict cutting down trees for the firewood, which–given my outfit–he had every reason to believe.
Nevertheless, he issued me a cease and desist order until I had consent from the city. But he was agreeable enough to tell me to whom I should write. He watched me pack my gear, probably thinking how he’d tell his wife when he got home what a crackpot he encountered.
Though temporarily stymied, I did write City Hall, and amazingly enough, I did receive permission! I went back to work, permission slip in hand, and after a week or so of hard labor was satisfied that the trees had a bright future.
So it was with a sense of satisfaction and nostalgia that I took this selfie yesterday. My little saplings have grown up, and it’s nice to know that someone else has taken over their care.