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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

No. 133 "When the 'worst case' might also be the 'best case'"

No. 133 "When the 'worst case' might also be the 'best case'"

Our front-row hedges, showing the stress!
In recent days I have been cutting-back our front row hedges – something I should have done long ago, because now they are so big that it’s all but impossible to cut through the thickest branches. Susan is worried that the trimming is so drastic that the bushes, mostly “Ruby Loropetalum” and “Snow Ball,” might not be able to recover from such an extreme pruning.

Considering that she might be right, I was reminded of a lesson I learned long ago from my brother Mike, and one that I have seen play out all too often in the decades since.

A white 1959 Buick LeSabre
In 1969, when I was nineteen years old, I worked and saved and bought a 1959 Buick for one hundred dollars. I soon assumed that I had overpaid. Almost from the first day, the engine would “run hot” so that I would have to stop for a while and let it cool down, and always kept a gallon of water in the trunk, just in case the radiator overflowed.

My brother, Mike, was the best mechanic I knew (or have ever known) and after trying several simple solutions, he suggested something that, he said, “would either fix it or ruin it.” I wasn’t sure I was ready for something that could be that drastic and so I questioned my brother, “So, you’re saying that in the worst case scenario it might not work at all?”

My brother Mike, with his wife Drexell, showing the smile
that usually came just before letting you know something you
should already have known before he told you.
With a broad smile he quickly responded, “What I am saying is that the worst case scenario is also the best case scenario. ‘Cause if it’s ruined, we’ll go get us a new one and we won’t have to worry about it no more!”

So, seeing Susan’s concern at what might be the demise of her beloved hedges, ones that date to our renovation from almost a decade ago, I tried to reassure her by pointing out what to me was obvious, that the “worst case scenario” she has envisioned might also be a “best case scenario.” If they don’t grow back, we’ll just get us some new ones.

By the way, back in ’69 I ended up with new-used radiator in my Buick that lasted until we later pulled the whole engine and dropped it into one of Mike’s fishing boats -  almost three years later.