Shelter Island Police Blotter: Talking to Trees

“Hello, Shelter Island Police, how may I help you?…Uh-huh…uh-huh…yes, we know her, she does that Mrs. Smith. Yeah, I can tell from your description it’s her. Big lady, bright colors, walks with a cane, make-up by Crayola….yeah, that’s Ms. Flynn. She always talks to the trees. She has Shinnecock ancestors and she was raised to believe that trees have feelings….Well, she’s not on your property, right? Just talking to the maple on your property?

Well, I can drive out there and ask her to leave and she will, but she’ll just go bother some other tree and someone else will call me. It would be nice if you could just ignore her, she’s used to it. Uh-huh…uh-huh…and when you spoke to her before you called, she was nice. Yeah, she’s nice. Let me guess, the tree in front of your house is the first one starting to show a little color, right? Yup. She has a theory that the first tree signals the ones around it to turn colors and she just wants them to stagger their color changes so it makes the autumn last longer….Right, and it gives the deer cover for a little longer before hunting season starts. I know, that’s why we don’t recommend that you talk with her too long— after about half an hour, she starts to make sense. But she’s not really making sense, she’s just blurring your lines of reality and next thing you know, you can’t put a nail in a tree without wondering if you’re hurting it. No, she’s never been examined. She’s not a danger to herself or anyone else. I’m sure some trees would file complaints if they could.

She’s perfectly harmless. After awhile, when she realizes she’s not getting anywhere with that tree, she’ll waddle away, just don’t put out any Entenmann’s for her, or she might find her way back. If you think she’s odd now, watch for her in the spring, down by the Whale’s Tale. There’s a patch of white violets she watches over, her and her mother. They talk to them in spring and encourage them to spread their patch and every year that patch gets bigger. I used to discourage her, but my wife likes white violets, so now I Iet her alone and pick a little bouquet up on my way home from work. You don’t have any roses leaning over any fences do you? Well, if you plant a row there in the spring, be aware, she has a real affinity for roses. She’ll talk the color right off them. She thinks aphids shake at the sound of her name. She carries around a homemade anti-aphid solution and sprays it on unsuspecting roses all summer. It’s one quart of water, nicotine-soaked from one cigarette and a teaspoon of dish soap. The soap breaks the surface tension on the leaf, the nicotine somehow nourishes the leaves and kills the aphids. How do I know? I told you, don’t talk to her too long or you’ll start paying attention. Now I’m wasting good cigarettes to spray my wife’s roses. Seems to work though. Gardenias? Don’t get her started on gardenias. She can’t seem to grow them and she thinks they have a vendetta against her. Don’t bring up gardenias, or you’ll spin her into a whole new level of organic crazy. Okay, Mrs. Smith, you take care.”

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