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I rummaged through the junk drawer.

“What are you doing?” Thomas asked.

“I’m gonna mow the tree.”

“I think the battery on the mower needs to be charged.”

“That’s OK,” I grabbed the scissors from underneath a candy bar wrapper, “Don’t need it.”

“Why not?”

“I’m not mowing the entire lawn, just the stupid tree,” I slipped on my shoes. “Why do the shoots grow so fast? It’s annoying.”

“It’s not just a tree,” Thomas said. “It’s Earth’s largest organism.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I’m serious,” Thomas opened his computer. “According to researchers at University of Colorado, Boulder, there is a massive Aspen tree grove, approximately 47,000 separate trees across 106 acres in Utah, that are all offshoots from a single tree root. It’s said to be over several thousand years old.”

“Are you sure it’s in Utah and not our front yard?”

“They named it Pando,” Thomas said, “which means ‘I spread’ in Latin.”

“They should have named it ‘Paino in my butto.’”

“What’s your plan if you’re not using the mower?” he asked.

“I’m gonna cut all the shoots,” I opened and closed the scissors.

“There are over 100 shoots.”

“In about 10 minutes, there’s gonna be over 100 fewer shoots,” I laughed. “I win!”

“That’s not how it works,” Thomas said. “Were you listening to anything I said? The tree, which includes the shoots, is an enormous organism. You’re not going to win.”

“You know what?” I snipped the first shoot. “Your attitude is not helping.”

I was happily mowing the tree when I heard a voice behind me.

“What are you doing now?” my neighbor, James, asked.

“Mowing the tree.”

“Interesting.”

“It’s efficient,” I said.

“OK.”

“What’s she doing now?” I heard a different neighbor, Rick, ask.

“She’s cutting the tree.”

“I’m mowing the tree,” I corrected. “Are y’all gonna stand there and watch?”

“Yep,” Rick said.

“Why?”

“Because you’re weird.”

“Don’t you have anything better to do?” I squat-walked to the next grove of shoots.

“I could watch my grass grow,” Rick said, “but this is more entertaining.”

“You could use a lawnmower,” James suggested. “It’d save time.”

“Yeah, but then we wouldn’t get to talk to her and tell her how weird she is,” Rick said.

“What is she doing now?”

I groaned.

Of course, my nosy, redheaded, nemesis neighbor would join the two gawkers.

“She’s trimming the shoots,” James said.

“We’re supervising,” Rick added.

“I. Am. Mowing. The. Tree.” I frog jumped to the edge of the sidewalk.

“That’s not the tree,” my nemesis said. “That’s crabgrass.”

“I’m aware,” I grabbed a clump of grass and sawed my way through it, “but it grows as fast as the tree.”

“Your lawn is a mess,” my nemesis sneered. “You realize there’s a piece of machinery to cut grass, right?”

“We told her that,” James said.

“I appreciate your words of wisdom, but if you’re not going to help, then go watch your grass grow,” I growled.

Rick looked across the street. “I can see it from here.”

“Great,” I said, grinding my teeth.

“How about we stand on your crabgrass clumps, so you don’t miss any?” Rick suggested.

My nemesis surveyed my yard, “We’re going to need more people.”

“We could get more neighbors,” James said.

“Good idea,” Rick agreed.

“Are you kidding me?” I yelled at his retreating back. “Y’all are ridiculous.”

“We’re ridiculous?” my nemesis asked. “You’re the one cutting your lawn with scissors. Use a mower.”

I’m gonna be honest, if my nemesis wasn’t there, I would’ve broken down and pulled out the mower. There was a lot.

Krista Vance is a former Champaign resident. While she now calls northern Colorado home, she spent five wonderful years here and misses great friends, corn and big-sky sunsets.

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