There’s this row of bushes outside of the salon I own. They are not pretty. In fact, I would say that they are a bit on the unsightly side. They’ve been there for the thirteen and a half years that I’ve been there, and probably for years before that. They are Berberis aquifolium or Mahonia aquifolium, commonly known as the Oregon Grape Bush. Don’t stand in awe. I am not a bush expert. Far from it, in fact. A client told me that was their name and I Googled images to make sure she was right. How do people just know these things? The landscapers clearly aren’t fluent in bush, either, because this row of bushes have never looked good.
Well, for years, I’ve been walking past these bushes without giving them much thought. Yes, I had noticed that they weren’t lovely, but they were just there, you know? I had to walk through them at least twice a day, going from my car to the salon and back. But I essentially stopped noticing them.
Several months ago, that all changed. One of my co-workers came in one day proclaiming that she hated those bushes. I was a bit surprised at her strong lack of love for them, but then, I have a list too. It just doesn’t include bushes. She said that they caught on her clothes or scratched her every time she walked by them. We joked about bringing in weed killer and ‘accidentally’ spilling it on the bushes; Or, at least I joked, but you don’t joke about killing with a homicidal person. Time went by and she continued her lack-of-love-affair with the bushes. Clients and co-workers were very helpful in their suggestions. ‘Walk around them’ was offered up several times, but who wants to walk ten feet around when there is a little path cutting right through? This is Oregon. It rains. A lot. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. See, I did learn something useful in math class! When it is raining, you want the shortest distance. Another person suggested just accidentally running over them in her car. Kind of a hit and run deal. Her car is nice and low, so I’m pretty sure she would be take them out with one pass, but would she scrape up her paint? Someone else suggested tearing them out and planting something pretty there, but it’s not our space to do with as we please. At least that was my first thought, until I thought about planting a raised bed there and putting in a pumpkin patch. How fun would it be to have our own pumpkin patch?
Anyway, the scheming when on and then one day Lindi tells me that she put a post on our business Facebook page that if anyone brought in a hedge clipper, she’d give them a free haircut. It was getting serious. I felt like this was a pivotal moment. Should we call the authorities? Should we warn our landlord? Should we call her boyfriend and see if she’s stockpiling bush-killing materials at home? No. We did what all good friends do. Or what people do when they want to see just how far crazy will take it. We encouraged her.
Finally, the day came when she walked through the door, in the best of moods, proclaiming she had remembered to bring the clippers from home. Today was the day! Her first spare minutes, she ran outside and started pruning the two bushes on either side of the path. Heavily pruning. She came in, victorious. Thrilled that she had conquered those suckers. We all just smiled and backed away slowly. No we didn’t, we celebrated with her, because with her pointing out their horribleness every day, we had all come to dislike the bushes too. Of course, WE weren’t the ones who groomed them so thoroughly, so we weren’t worried about being shunned by the Arborist Society.
It’s funny how I can have something in my life for years and not really see it? I may have noticed it at one point, but with continued exposure, it became white noise. Then a fresh pair of eyes come along and point out just how annoying it is and suddenly, I start being bugged by it too. Is it the actual object that is suddenly bugging me? Is it the fact that it’s being pointed out to me every day that I find annoying or is it that I am annoyed that I wasn’t the one to say just how annoying it was that bugs me? What else am I being unobservant about? What other ugly things would my life be better without? More importantly, what beautiful things in my life have become white noise?
It might be time to invite Lindi over to my house to point them out, but she’ll have to leave the clippers at home.