Thursday, July 18, 2013

Opposites Do Not Always Attract

Romantic lore (er, wisdom?) has it that opposites attract.

You know: the petite blond attracted to the strapping tall, dark, and handsome specimen of humanity, positive ions attracted to negative ions, and all that.

My intended research on the origin of the adage yielded not a linguistic history, but affirmations and denials, and an eponymous Paula Abdul song.

One website claimed that when it comes to values and qualities, people actually seek the similar.

Another claimed that in terms of the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator, people usually are attracted to their opposite with respect to the Introversion/Extroversion and Judging/Perceiving scales.

Silliness: life is an amalgamation of many truths, not singular ones.

Yet I can affirm that at least one pair of opposites do not attract: sun and shade.

My neighbor recently spoke to me about trimming the shade- and privacy-providing, albeit severely overgrown and misshapen hedge that divides our properties. I understood him to be asking for permission to pick up any debris that happened to land on my property.

On Sunday morning, after a delightful Saturday away, I awoke, turned on the computer, and glanced out the study window to look upon the garden. What greeted me was horror: the trimming of the hedge row more properly stated proved to be an extermination. The yews. His pogrom--one designed to trim the mass as it were--clearly, quickly morphed into a genocide. My East Side Shade Bed (ESSB) was now the East Side Full-Sun Bed, though I could think of a four-letter F word that would nicely take the place of "Full" and express my feelings.

Sure, he left several feet of bare trunks to protrude (oddly) from the ground, a memorial marking for what once stood on his property, and nothing else save for a rhododendron which he recognized, and the two final bushes that marked the end of the hedge: a yew and the enormous Viburnum.

Soon, I heard not the metal clacking sounds of a hand-held shears, but the gas-motorized roar of a mini-chainsaw.  Out the door I ran.

He greeted me with, "Oh my God, where were you yesterday?! I needed you...."

I started with recognition of his property rights.  "Hi X. Please don't misinterpret, for you have every right to do whatever you wish to your property. But I admit I am shocked and now extremely worried about my plants. I thought you were going to trim the yews, but you.... you,"  (I stammered, overcome with shock) " cut them to the ground."

"I know, I know: I didn't know what I was doing!  I am so sorry! That's why I needed you yesterday but you weren't around! I am so sorry!"  Not the reaction I expected, but good. My genocidaire was actually reasonable. To a degree.

"This isn't your problem," I continued, "but I have some very expensive unusual specimens in that bed that need full shade. I haven't time to relocate an entire bed of plants, so if I could plead with you, could you please not chop down the remaining yew and the Viburnum?"

"The what? What's a Vi-....whatever you just said."

So we talked. And, together, we trimmed and shaped the remaining yew, which shades the Buddha bed and my now-beloved, and expensive, Edgeworthia. And the Viburnum remains....vibrant.

Over the last few days, in the wee hours of the morning before the temperatures quickly reach the 90s and the humidity level makes gardening unbearable, I've been moving things around. Not quickly enough, however. Yesterday's high heat and full day of sun were not kind to the plants of the Formerly-Known-as-the-ESSB.

But that's what gardening is all about: successes and losses. And in the gardening world, those opposites certainly always do attract.

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