This Saturday morning, we had a visitor in our back yard. We had been expecting it, or something like it for some time, but with all the wind and rain over the days preceding, it wasn't really a shock to see half an acacia tree enveloping our much smaller plum tree just over our fence. Not a shock, but still quite a sight. A lot of limbs. A lot of wood. All done in by a bunch of water that fell from the sky. And gravity.
It was the gravity that made the most of the experience, since removing the mass of tangled branches became an extra-daring game of pick-up sticks. Three and a half hours of chopping, sawing, snapping, and dragging generated a monstrous pile of brush, but still left the bulk of the wreckage in an inverted crash position as a lasting monument to the work that nature can do, and the work that I would be doing for the foreseeable future.
I did take a quick break. I decided to look up the name and number the owner of the house that deposited the lumber in our yard. I wanted to use Al Gore's Internet, but I found that this option was unavailable. The phone had stopped working as well. I performed my usual ritual dance of unplugging and replugging the router and modem, and still came up with nothing. I used my cellular telephone to contact the Xfinity folks, whose customer interface began with a friendly reminder that I could access customer service anytime via the web. Suddenly, I longed to be outside again, wrestling with the acacia corpse.
As it turned out, the modem we had been our trusted companion for so long had given up the ghost, and when a lady in Phoenix told me that I would have to drive down to the local cable store to pick up a new one, I winced at the ugly reality of standing in line, waiting for someone to hand me a new box into which I could plug those same wires. Cutting down trees felt like an infinitely preferable alternative, but in order to receive a call from our neighbor, who would undoubtedly come home and realize the weight of his responsibility for his wayward timber and want to arrange a quick and painless removal of all that wood.
Another hour in the yard. Another two hours on the phone, and the danger had been eliminated, along with an Internet connection and a dial tone on our phone. I decided to hang on the line just a little longer to negotiate a little editing of my monthly bill. I had spent the day working in the forest and minding the vagaries of my family's electronic communications, and all I wanted was a little bit of credit.