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A time for pulling up

As it is written in the third Chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes, "There is a time for planting and a time for pulling up." And so it was that the little willow hedge I had planted maybe five or six years ago needed to be pulled up. It was a cheerful little hedge for a few years, but it added more dead branches every year, it was getting scruffy and it was a nuisance to mow around. It was ugly and at the end of its life cycle.

So I came out with a shovel to uproot the sorry thing and have the remains cremated. I plunged the shovel down next to the roots and prepared to pull back and lift. Then I heard this crabby voice barking at me from the middle of a small clump of remaining green leaves.

"Hold on cowboy, what do you think you're doing?"

I stared in disbelief. "Excuse me. Who's talking?"

"I'm talking, dummy. My name is Mr. Willow. What's that shovel for?"

"I'm digging you up. It's all over. As it says in Ecclesiastes, "There is a time for planting and a time for pulling up."

"Then pull up that shovel you just planted. If you had read a little further you would have read 'love your neighbor.'"

"You're not my neighbor, you're a sick willow. Look, time is short. I've got to get moving. You were good for a few years, but now your time is up."

"Listen you clumsy lumberjack, I'm indicting you on five counts of gross behavior."

"What are the charges?"

"You'll be sorry you asked. Here they are:"

"Count 1. Negligent planting. The original hole wasn't big enough and you didn't put in any compost. All you did was throw in an apple core and a banana peel. Yuk.

Count 2. Failure to fertilize. Raquel fertilizes her flowers. Couldn't you learn from her? You had three kids. You fed them when they were babies didn't you?

Count 3. Failure to water. I'm not a cactus. I'm a willow. We need water. Duh.

Count 4. Failure to trim. You get hair cuts -- bad ones I might add -- well, we in the plant kingdom need clipping and trimming too.

Count 5. Overall abuse, neglect and indifference. What do you say to all that you brown thumb?"

"Not guilty. It's a jungle out here. It's every plant for himself, survival of the fittest. I brought you into this world but I'm not a wet nurse. Out of the nursery, into the real world. Time to take root on your own. Look around you. The trees and bushes in this yard are all big, strong and healthy. They took care of themselves and you should have too."

"If you call that apple tree over there big, strong and healthy, you've been smoking leaves from a pungent plant. Let's face it, you're a total failure when it comes to growing things. I feel like an abandoned stepchild. Never got any love. I thought I'd meet some people who cared."

"Look, you're a whiner, a regular weeping willow, but you're starting to get to me. Tell you what I'm gonna do, Mr. Willow. I'm gonna take some of your tender little branches and cut them into roasting sticks. When the kids come to visit next weekend, we'll have a marshmallow roast and you'll be in the party. What do you think of that?"

"If the kids knew you quoted the Bible to me, they'd know there was a hypocrite in the roots of their family tree."