We are lucky. We live on that side of Houston that has trees.
However, this winter their oaky branches began scraping the roof line of our house. Every few days I’d go out there and look up at the high amplitude roof line part of the architecture of no other house on the block but ours and try to convince myself I wasn’t watching roofing granules flying through the air.
My dad had warned me long ago when I was little that roofing granules were integral to houses whose roofs don’t leak.
And let me tell you, I have a bit of obsessive behaviour about leaky houses.
I reported to Silent Bob.
“Can we get someone to cut those limbs off?” I asked as I dragged him outside and pointed up at one that looked like it hovered even more near the satellite dish than it did yesterday. Like a hypochondriac who knows better than to google her latest symptoms, I refrained from requesting confirmation that he too noticed roofing granules leaving their shingles as we stood there.
“I’ll call Armando,” SB said agreeably, and with extraordinary nonchalance, given the dire predicament of our roof, returned to the golf video for swing improvement on his iPhone.
Armando was to come in two days time.
It rained 10 inches in Houston for the next three.
On the fourth day, the doorbell rang and their stood Armando, his two helpers waiting at his truck and massive trailer.
SB had contracted to not only have Armando remove the limbs but two large trees that looked like they were aching to come down on a power line or the neighbors house during the 2014 hurricane season.
Armando is short, like me. He has smooth, brown skin. I really like Armando’s eyes. They are brown, which I have a certain partiality to, but mostly what I like is how he looks out of them. He is direct and makes eye contact. And there seems to be a lot going on behind them. You don’t have to be figuring out the law of thermodynamics to have a lot of value in your thinking and I just have a feeling that Armando is not a man who just goes through life willy nilly.
There is a bit of discussion with his crew. He is methodical and does not hurry, as he surveys the job. Armando then straps on all the accoutrements for tree climbing, his helpers in their places, and starts up the first tree.
I have an issue with heights. An increasingly irrational fear of them.
I couldn’t look away and I could hardly stand to watch.
When Armando stood on the first limb, a good 30 feet in the air and and swung the chain saw up to take off the first limb, all I could think of was, thank God literally I am not this man’s mother.
All through the day, Armando worked.
Once as he took the oldest oak down, piece by piece, I watched as he directed each section of tree, each weighing no less than 50 pounds, to the place he wanted on the ground. Mass, in free fall, takes only a slight of hand, to maneuver. He was precise in his timing and movements.
He got on top of each roof, ours and my Mother’s, assessing a couple of years growth from now and sweeping away the debris from his efforts. He was so thorough. I was surprised at the limb that he left. It looked to be an issue to Mother’s roofing granules in the not too distant future.
Armando came to the door and knocked. As I opened it, he smiled. And he led me to just below Mother’s apartment balcony.
“You see this limb,” he asked, his accent very thick and pointing to the limb I had noted.
“I will cut this if you want. But I thought about it for several minutes.I think it gives shade to your Mother when she sits on her porch in the evening.”
I looked directly at him. His eyes were warm with care and in them, very clearly, was the desire to do a good job in all the ways he knew how, with both head and heart.
“It’s nice, Armando, You are exactly right.”
Armando, you will never know this, but I think you are a Handsome Cowboy.
Postscript: For previous Handsome Cowboys and the definition, you can go HERE