The afternoon drones with sounds mimicking the dentist’s drill, only amplified tenfold: the ache is similar although I’m not bibbed and numbed and goggled and sitting in the dentist’s chair. It’s the thirty-foot-cypress, overgrown and dropping limbs in my backyard, that is coming down.

Fifteen minutes earlier, I watched the arborist, squat and muscular as a bulldog, buckle his harness around his waist, hitch his chainsaw to his belt, strap spur- supports to his calves and feet, hurl his support rope around the base of the tree, and with his hard hat buckled under his chin, mount the tree.

In no time, lower branches crash to the ground, and two burly helpers heft them over the fence into the jaws of the chipper parked in the street. More wrenching of what was the tree resonates with the ache of the chainsaw. One hour later, all that remains of the cypress is a pile of logs, their ends resembling six-petelled rustic flowers. The afternoon quiet returns.

I’m left with long thoughts …