Amish & Mennonite

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Once Removed
Excerpt

 

One

 

They cut down twenty trees by the Co-op this week. Elms. They claimed they were diseased and marked each one with a red dot just hours before the Thiessen boys came with their chainsaws. The whole time I sat there in the truck with the engine idling and the radio tuned to the funeral announcements, waiting for Mr. Vogt to pound on the hood a couple times and say, "Na, Timothy, looks like you’re good to go." Then I hauled it all off to the dump to be burned.

 

It wasn’t a pleasant scene, all those trees coming down and the barren land left there afterwards, but I did have some reason to be optimistic. The last time a whole row of trees went down like this, there was a liquor store on the cleared lot within months. It’s our first one and, rumour has it, the busiest in rural Manitoba. Now we don’t have to sneak off to Ste. Adèle for booze. We can get our wine-in-a-box right here in Edenfeld. Another patch of elms was declared diseased to make way for a dollar store. Progress is progress. Katie and I have a beautiful mature tree in our backyard too, but thankfully it’s behind the house and therefore in an undesirable location for commercial enterprise. I worry about those tall ones on Wilshire, though. They’re oaks, remnants of a large stand that predates European settlement in this area. There’s a plaque nearby stating as much, which appears to have protected them from the ambitions of local land developers and/or mayors who also happen to be land developers.

 

I asked Mr. Vogt about the land by the Co-op, if he knew what was happening to it, but all he said was, "Mayor’s orders," and he left the rest to my imagination. I’m not sure that was a good idea, because I can envision some pretty awful things cropping up on that lot. Probably another donut shop with inadequate drive-through space. Mr. Vogt says it’s better not to ask too many questions.

 

Edenfeld prides itself on our aggressive disease prevention program, which requires the swift removal of trees that are past their prime and buildings that, in Mr. Vogt’s words, "attract vermin if left to their own devices." These are the very same trees and buildings that other towns might try to preserve for environmental or historical reasons. According to the sign on the highway, Edenfeld was founded in 1876, but good luck finding anything older than about 1990. There are some exceptions, of course, but the Parks and Rec department is rapidly making them a thing of the past.

 

Once things seemed under control at the Co-op, Mr. Vogt tasked me with picking the dandelions at BLT Wiens Memorial Park. BLT Wiens is actually still alive and still our mayor, but the town figured it would be more economical to include the word "Memorial" right away rather than waiting to add it in later. I was told to pick the weeds by hand, and with the three Thiessens busy felling the last of the trees, the job was mine alone. Chemical herbicides are banned in our province, a recent law that greatly upset Edenfeld politicians who feel that "weeding is a strictly civic matter." BLT explained all this in an angry memo that, for some reason, also specified that we couldn’t even use citrus juice to kill the weeds, but I think that had less to do with the environmental impact and more to do with maintaining our thriving local potluck scene, which has always relied on an ample supply of lemon meringue pie, among other varieties. The new weeding process is much more labour-intensive—such that the mayor’s eponymous park is the only one in town that receives this level of attention.

 

Mr. Vogt said I should bring my chainsaw.

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