Jason Deal

The Japanese plum tree in my parents’ back yard doesn’t like me.

I don’t know what I ever did to it.

I haven’t pruned its branches, stolen its fruit or climbed up in it.

It all started a few weeks back when my brother bought a new Zero Turn John Deere lawn mower.

It is the Cadillac of lawn mowers. We should have gotten one a long time ago.

It zigs and zags and makes cutting in tight places a breeze.

That’s especially helpful in my parents’ yard. It is actually my grandparents’ old place where my Daddy grew up.

My grandparents tinkered and toyed with all kinds of growing things. They planted azaleas out the wazoo, a camphor tree, caladiums, camellias, dogwoods, crepe myrtles, roses, day lilies, gardenias, hydrangeas, lemon trees, blueberry bushes, pomegranates, apples and a pair of “dwarf” holly trees nearing 72 years old that are higher than the house. For good measure, they also threw in a Japanese plum tree.

My Grandma attempted to back over it a few times with her Chevrolet Caprice, a car she inherited from her sister and drove until old age forced her to turn in her keys.

It was tough. Daddy moved it and it has thrived — perhaps, too much. It has developed an attitude.

I was there trying to mow under its low branches when it tried to choke me. A quick maneuver to throw the mower in reverse saved me from its grip.

A few weeks later, it took my straw hat. I know you don’t believe me, but it is true. I wish I had started wearing a hat sooner as I have now had to start visiting the skin cancer clinic thanks to sun damage and a pre-cancerous spot on the crown of my head. My Grandma warned me.

“Son, if you don’t start wearing a hat, you are going to fry your brains,” she’d tell me back when I was a teenager and didn’t think I needed to wear a hat in the blazing sun.

I know it doesn’t read like that in precautions about protecting your skin from the sun, but she was right. I wish I had listened.

The Japanese plum tree rubbed it in by taking my hat.

It took it off my head and threw it on the ground and it hit me right on top of the freshly biopsied crown of my head. Ouch. When I retrieved my hat, the crown of it was missing, cut out in a big ol’ hole in the thatchwork. Daddy found it the next day in the side yard by the shed. The Japanese plum tree probably blew it over there with its leaves. I wouldn’t put anything past it.

Just last week, the tree tried to take my glasses. I can see without my glasses in a natural setting, but I can’t focus enough to read. It ripped my spectacles, with my sun shades clipped on them, right off my nose. It left a shiner right under my left eye. Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad. A little healing ointment fixed it right up.

Still not sure what to do about the Japanese plum tree, though.

Giving it a stern talking too seems pointless. It doesn’t have any ears.

Grounding it hardly seems like punishment. Its roots are already deep.

Maybe I should take off one of its limbs and administer corporal punishment. Spare the rod, spoil the... tree?

Not sure what to do about it.

Perhaps, I should just put a fence around it and stay as far away from its branches as possible.

I think that’s what I’ll do. It’s gotten the best of me. I’m 0-for-3 against the Japanese plum tree.

• Jason Deal is a staff writer for The Blackshear Times. Reach him at jdeal@blacksheartimes.news.