Kimberly M. Blaeser
“You have to go deep to do any good,” Spanish heard him say. He went on gesturing and explaining to her about fertilization. She found it hard to meet his eyes, so she turned small rocks over with her toes, half alert for a fossil. Every so often she would look up at the old oak—seventy-five to a hundred years old he had told her.
Now he was writing things down: formulas, brand names, equipment she would need. She wanted to laugh every time she looked at him. It’s the way she felt ever since he came down the drive in that sporty Mazda. Like his shirt, it was some kind of blue she couldn’t name—one of the designer colors invented in some laboratory, custom made for yuppies. For this yuppie tree doctor.
She stood squinting trying to superimpose some distinctive character over his smooth, round, dimpled cheeks. She tied a bandanna pirate-style over his head. No, that didn’t work. She rolled it into a headband, but that looked silly on his close-cropped hair, made his little bald spot more prominent. Well, maybe a hat … an Aussie hat … or a scar across his cheekbone …
“Well, that should do it. Got it? I’d bring the mulch out to here if you don’t mind the looks of it. Miss?”
“Hmmm? Oh, I think so. Mulch, fertilizer injections, pruning …”
“In the dead of winter.”
“Right. But you say you can’t promise it will do any good.”
“Know in three to five years—if you’re still here. I’ll leave you my card if you think of something you forgot to ask.”
And then he was bending over his notebook again. Suddenly she wanted to touch the little hollow on his chin, fill it with her finger. Feel the smooth curve of it. A tree doctor after all. Some ancient blood, some spirit must have left its mark, somewhere palpable. Her hand moved to caress the cold smooth dip of the brown spirit stone in her pocket.
He himself he had hardly touched anything. The bark for no more than a few seconds. A branch pulled down for a hasty look at the leaves. “Boozhoo,* my friend
* In Ojibwe, boozhoo means “hello.”