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They arrive in a pack, swooping into the complex one after the other in the early working portion of the morning. Pick up truck, roofed truck towing chopper, and open dump truck.

Consulting their list, they find the area and claim parking spaces.

Up into the tree he climbs, trailing the lines that will be looped, secured, and observed during his time above the ground.

Thump! Thump!

Grrrr!  Grrr!

Limbs fall, trace a path of shedding leaves across the grass, as earth bound men saw them into bites and feed them to the ravenous chipper.

Leavy canopy shrinks, large bare arms become exposed to the sky. The cutter descends, shrinking the widening truck with each cut of his saw. Into the open truck they go. Firewood for sale?

All on the ground again, they attack a final time. Wipe out the trace, leave only a circle of straw to cover a bare spot where the stump has been into a shallow depression.

Neighborhood children will lack one of my memories. A large stump on the schoolgroud served us as “safe” in tag, viewpoint for prowling adults, and even a prop for at least one yearbook class photo.


The Sweeper

A mechanical growl loud breaks the morning silence from a block away.

I scan ahead and to the left, across the street. There it is – a large white box trotting around the theater parking lot after a busy night. Whirring and vacuuming as it goes the private street sweeper gobbles cups, paper and plastic debris from the paved area between the large, flashy theater and the row of shops across the width of a small block.

Intent on exercise I continue my route. I meet another sweeper moving along from one trash can to another, combining contents into his larger wheeled container. He lowers the catcher in his left hand, deftly moves the broom with his right and sweeps the stray bit off the walk.

Old and new. Manual and mechanical. They work in tandem across four busy lanes of morning traffic.

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Waiting for Harvest

Almost ready!

Traffic rolls past, observing the speed limit, but not the pair of trees behind an ordinary white fence.

The walkers on the wide shoulder know better. They have been checking, watching, and waiting. Blossoms came first, in the early warm days of spring. Was the wind right? Were the bees down the road out and working? Suddenly the white vanished, to be replaced by tiny green leaves, growing quick between the seasonal storms. Ahhh. There they are. A few? No, more. This might be a good year. Patience. It’s hot now. Where did the rain go?

Now, branches dip with heavy fruit. A few drop with a soft “thump” in the wind.

Wash the canning jars!

Pears are almost ready.

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Never scheduled.  Never announced. Never the same.

Music drifts down, swirls, and reminds me of years past.

During the winter months the impromptu sessions were deep, mellow tones of a baritone sax. The same passage – a few measures, a couple of bars – repeated as fingers and tongue build muscle memory.

This summer the favored instrument is the keyboard. Pleasant. Much better than the jerky, simple melodies of my childhood piano practice. I count it as a bonus the afternoon I tapped away on the computer and listened to a short concert, with variations on Greensleeves.

College begins later this month. They gain a music major.

I’ll miss the boy upstairs.



Front and Back


The word pops to mind as I push through the sturdy glass door with metal rim and push bar. It’s twin, rests on hinges ready to work when an extra wide burden enters.

The entrance blends in with the balance of the building. As a small portion of a strip mall in a developed area of St Louis County it leads upward on open stylish steps to a collection of law and insurance offices. A large white globe of a fixture hangs straight down to furnish light on cloudy days and late afternoons.

Business concluded, it’s time for exercise, in this case a walk around the complex.

Metal steps with a tin sheet roof, typical of television pictures from far away places juts out from the back side of the second floor, pauses for a brief moment and continues. Fire escape. Back exit.


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Thief: one who steals – to take and carry away without permission (Merriam-Webster)

He looks both ways, checks for enemies and interference.

Thanks to a compassionate human, his target has continued to mature during the recent hot, dry spell. It’s almost ripe enough for that aforementioned human, but our thief has a different agenda.

With a graceful leap he springs to the wooden fence, clings but a moment and transfers to a wire support. He almost vanishes into the tall, thick plant. Cautious now, he looks around, pauses as if to savor the moment.

He leans forward. Snip!

The rosy tomato falls to the ground. He drops next to it. Snatches it up in his rodent mouth and dashes away for a squirrel breakfast.

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Staying Clear

Swish. Swish.

Sudsy water presses against glass. The applicator swirls like a ballroom patron determined to use every inch of the dancefloor.  Pause. Twist. Splash. A saturated mop head returns to the wide mouth container.

Exhibiting the sort of flair born only with practice and repetition, the man reaches for a molded rubber blade. A turn of the wrist later and it touches the glass. Firm. Precise. Moisture hurries downward, ahead of a wide, clear path.

The man moves on, pushing the wheeled cart of supplies ahead of him. Quick, more to go.

Early morning sun slants past the roofed walk. Beckoning joggers, strollers, and patrons alike. In a flash it livens the window, makes it extend an invitation.

Welcome to my restaurant.

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Fresh Cash

My morning walk takes me within sight of several banks. They are quiet places an hour before the drive-up window opens. They are not always deserted.

Always they arrive as a pair. One carries a bulky, lockable bag. His partner (I’ve never observed a woman at this location) scans the area with a sharp set of eyes. Mere yards away from the squared armored truck they set to work opening and filling the ATM.

Thick stacks of bills are placed inside. Numbers duly recorded, rolls of receipt paper restocked, panels locked into place.

Without visible hesitation they return to their vehicle. A moment later they roll past the replenished appratus, down the drive, and unto the street.

This morning the truck has been gone scant time to travel a block.

A young man pulls in beside the ATM. The parking permit for a local college sways from the rear view mirror as he inserts his card, presses the appropriate buttons and gathers fresh cash.


The Calico

I’m watching you!

Morning after morning she stares at me. Her eyes are wide, alert for changes.

There from her spot between the curtain and the window glass the calico takes note of the morning traffic. She’s become accustomed to the quick movement of cars and the morning sun glinting off their side windows. What does she think of me – a lone human, red baseball cap – without leash or dog?

She pushes up to a full sitting position as the neighbor emerges from the door.  They pass in review for her inspection – child, child, adult. She sinks back down to play sphinx. The puppy that makes her dizzy trying to track is safe in the house.