The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Tuesdays are good days for demolition

Rachael Conlin Levy

I didn’t wake with an intention to rip out my front yard, but by eight-thirty in the morning the opportunity presented itself and I accepted. The front was covered in forty-year-old juniper that resembled the shaggy backside of Oscar the Grouch not only in appearance but temperament. All summer, I’d cajoled, bribed, threatened, demanded, pleaded and paid my children to hack away at this prickly monster, and yet here we were well into autumn and two-thirds of the yard still covered.


But now there was an excavator on the street. The digger was preparing the foundation for a new house, and it would make quick work of my juniper — if I asked nicely. I put on some lipstick, brought along a five-year-old fan of all things mechanized and macho, and asked whether anyone was interested in earning a little extra money at the end of the day. I was told it could be done for nothing more than a dump fee. Oh boy, did I snap up that offer!


By mid-afternoon, the excavator rolled across the street and up onto my sidewalk, a dump truck rumbled to a stop nearby, and a man who had driven his first tractor at the age of four and had been operating diggers since 1978 swung the excavator’s neck over my yard.

“He’s one of the best,” the truck driver told me as we watched from the sidewalk. “He can pick up a comb and part your hair he’s so good.”

With a crack and a splinter, the metal jaw bit into shrub and plucked root and all from the ground. Thirty minutes later, I paid the dump fee — a fraction of the bid estimates I’d received from landscapers — and thanked the operator with a tip and a pan of  brownies, whose smell lingered in the house when my son Sam arrived home from school.


“You made brownies?” he asked with giant and knowing grin.

“Yes, as a thank you to the construction workers who finished our job for us.”


“Go look out the window.”


“Yeah, brownies are worth the juniper, don’t you think?”

I was answered with a second giant and knowing grin.


Sam, 12, with mom and  juniper we did not demolish, 2013.

4 responses to “Tuesdays are good days for demolition”

  1. Hooray for you! THAT is the way to get rid of junipers!! It took me months to get rid of the ones at our old house! Will look forward to hear what you’re going to do with the space now. (Love the “part your hair” quotation.)

  2. Linda says:

    Lipstick, huh? I think it was your feminine wiles that persuaded that fellow to take up your offer…
    I can see the smile of satisfaction on Sam’s face…. ding dong, the juniper is dead, ding dong the wicked juniper is dead! And all it took was a little lipstick, three clicks of your slippers and a tray of homemade brownies!

  3. Dad says:

    Wonderful News!
    That’s Living in the Moment loud and clear…way to go Rachael!
    As if by magic a long pending goal simply melted away,
    I like to think a backhoe and a few grand earthly souls just fell out of the sky,
    Gracias al cielos!
    And a good lesson for me on the value of patience and persistence.
    Great story Rachael,
    Lots of love,

  4. I like your make-it-happen attitude. Nice work.

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