Pet Peeves

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Monkey Business

by Mark D. Crantz

It was date night. My wife says it helps our marriage. Usually, date night consists of dinner and a movie. We can never agree on where to eat or what movie to watch. So, we go our separate ways to keep the marriage strong. So, on this particular date night, I found myself bellying up to the bar in the Saloon, while my wife stood in line for gelato behind six million tourists. I had time for a few thousand rounds. I love date night.

It was crowded. I was having trouble catching the bartender’s eye. I was going through my “I’m so parched look” without success. While I ruminated on how I could improve looking thirsty, I overheard a couple of guys in a heated argument over a tree. One wanted it. One didn’t. It was none of my business, so I listened harder.

I could tell these guys were from North Laguna. They were talking about tree streets. Only North Laguna has streets designated this way. Years ago, my wife dragged me to a lot of open houses on these streets. Obviously, I was eavesdropping on two guys from one of the treeless streets. Well, it was treeless save for this one tree holdout.

Should I butt in and add my two cents? I hemmed and hawed. Tree arguments are dangerous in Laguna. Passions run high on both sides. Maybe it would be better to stay quiet, to drink and stagger away, so I might live to drink another day. I should be afraid of these residents. At the very worst, these residents could cut me down to size with lawyers touting a phalanx of arborist experts, who will testify Crantz is worse than the tree in dispute. I can hear it now. “Crantz listened in to our private conversation, applied his shady writing style and went way out on the limb of reality. Let’s show him the chainsaw is mightier than the pen.”

Yikes. I shouldn’t get involved. Better to find a topic that’s not so emotionally charged. You know something everyone agrees on. Okay then, I’ll write about the Design Review Board. Now there’s a group of rubber-stampers determined to make everyone happy. “Approved. Build big and prosper.”

Nah, the Design Review Board is too boring of a topic. I have to take my chances and write about this tree dispute. Specifically, the tree is an Araucaria araucana. That’s Latin. Loosely translated, it means “Get that awful tree out of here.” No, that’s not true.  The common name is Monkey Puzzle tree. It looks like a spindly pine tree and when the wind blows, the limbs move like a monkey’s, and it hoots like one, too. Children love it.  Residents, not so much.

The Monkey Puzzle tree is native to central and southern Chile. It is the hardiest species in the conifer genus Araucaria. Because of the longevity of this species, it is described as a living fossil. So, it seems to me that one solution would be to replant this tree at the Susi Q Center to be with other living fossils.

The Monkey Puzzle tree is also the national tree of Chile. Its conservation status was changed to endangered by the ICUCN in 2013 due to the dwindling population caused by logging, forest fires and caravans bringing the trees north. President Trump, a tree hugger by reputation, is fighting the theft of this species by building a wall to force the return of the Monkey Puzzle tree to its native land.

To make America great again, the solution is obvious. These residents should build a wall around the tree in dispute. Everyone knows that strong walls make good neighbors.

Crantz tells the Indy that he likes Monkey Puzzle trees. He likes when the trees hoot and holler like monkeys. Livens up the place.


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