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That's what the foreman of the landscaping company said yesterday, approximately. He speaks English well, but shouts directions to his two helpers in Spanish. I was discussing what I wanted done, ailanthus tree down and forsythia hedge pruned back to allow for installation of replacement fence. They had started work at seven in the morning and it was now ten. I was still drinking coffee, but the cold air woke me up faster.

One man was up in the tree, no helmet, no safety harness, no ear protection, with a chainsaw. The man on the ground was methodically carrying brush on his shoulders, the pile obscuring his head, the pile of brush almost half of his height. A silent comedy show, although to him it was probably just work.

Suddenly, the foreman yelled to the man on the ground a string of urgent Spanish instructions, the only word I understood was "diablo". I said I didn't know much Spanish, but I knew what diablo meant, so I was going back inside my house. He laughed, "I will not let Satan come here (quick Catholic sign of the cross and kiss to the sky). We call the red truck 'Diablo', because it gives us much trouble. Like some women."

Later, almost at dusk, I went out again because the foreman was back. The forsythia were completely gone, except for the impossibly stubborn old roots. His men had even trimmed back some lilacs that weren't ours. They had cut to size and split more than a cord of wood, no charge. I had no complaints since out of three tree cutting companies, he came and got the job done before the ground becomes totally frozen. While I'm writing out a check, he tells me a bit of his life story. I had told him something about my current situation, because he asked when he came to give me an estimate last week.

Before leaving, he put his work-gloved hands on each of my arms, looked me square in the face, and said,"I asked my wife what is Alzheimer's last night at dinner. She said it is what my grandfather had, a slow dying of the brain. I am so sorry in my heart to tell you this." I reassured him I already knew and that some people call it a long goodbye. "Yes, that is what it is. If you need help, you can call me any time. This is what neighbors do." And then, as if to lighten the mood, he invited me to stop by during the holidays by saying, " I was alcoholic, so I no longer drink, but I can watch you drink some good Tequila, okay?"

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