By DAVID GREEN
The Siberian elm is certainly my least favorite tree. We had quite a sizable one growing in our side yard until the infamous Middle School Awards Night Straight-Line Thunderstorm of 2000.
The wind only brought some of the tree’s heavy branches down—including one that made a hole in our roof—but we had it cut after that. We had already spent more than enough ice storm nights listening to crashes onto the roof from its branches dropping.
What I don’t like about the tree isn’t so much its state as a handsome mature visitor from eastern Siberia. It’s the dozens of little sprouts that come up everywhere. I’ll be trimming Siberian elm for as long as I live here.
That’s what I was doing Saturday afternoon instead of doing what I should have been doing—creating stories for a newspaper.
I was trimming elm, cutting through dozens of ivy tendrils that are trying to take over our house, and pulling out grapevine and thistle when I realized how odd my job is.
For example, I went to Fayette Friday night to cover the Civil War program at the Opera House. I enjoyed it very much and I had some good conversations with people afterward.
But everyone who attended the event is done with it. The program is over. But I have to “enjoy” it all over again while writing a story about it.
This is all very obvious and I should have realized it before in the past 30 years, but that’s my life over and over again. I go to a ball game and when it ends, that’s pretty much the end for everyone there, except me. I have to go through it all again and put it into words.
I go to a council meeting, go home and live through it all again. What a weird existence. Everything in double.
A couple of weeks ago I received an amusing report from Morenci native Herb Camburn who lives in California. I think his tale sets a record for bad newspaper delivery. The non-deliveries don’t count; only those papers that eventually reach the subscriber are eligible for consideration.
“I just brought in the Observer that the mailman just delivered. I didn’t glance at the date but thought that the photo on the front of a kid and pumpkins was a little strange for the month of May.
“When I checked the date at the top it was: Wednesday, September 29, 2010. Boy, the U.S. Postal Service has really outdone themselves this time!
“I think this is really amazing. I have absolutely no idea where this paper has been lurking for eight months! In any case, most of the papers have been arriving in pretty good time now.”
I don’t know if “amusing” is really the word to use here. A little sad, actually. We continue to receive complaints from subscribers about poor delivery, along with occasional reports of very good delivery. A subscriber in one Florida city, for example, will get the paper on Saturday or Monday while someone in another part of Florida might get two at a time or an older one before a new one, or none at all.
I remind people of the option to download the electronic version (the photographs look so much better), but a lot of people just want newsprint in their hands.
One more newspaper update. A few weeks ago I wrote about “my other wife” and mentioned this incident:
I was rubbing [my wife’s back] and mentioned something about the scar on her leg from the motorcycle. I must have been half asleep. Colleen has never been on a motorcycle, but I know I’m not making this up. Someone, one of my other wives, was once burned by a motorcycle exhaust pipe. If you’re reading this, let me know. I’d like to clear this one up.
An out-of-town subscriber read that account—someone a year behind me in school—and she knew exactly who it was that suffered the leg burn. That may be so, but it was no one I ever dated, so I’m still wondering about this one.
It’s now a day later and I’ve finished the Civil War story. I have to admit, I enjoyed the show all over again. It wasn’t an unpleasant chore at all to recreate the program for others to read.
I don’t even want to think about how few people will actually take the time to read it. If I start doing that, doubts about my career will spread like Siberian elm.