Pigeons and Palms

According to Wikipedia, Pigeons and doves comprise the family Columbidae within the order Columbiformes … but that doesn’t make them smart.

Yesterday I found a large black pigeon standing in the shade by the pool. He would walk a few steps, and stop and rest. This, I thought, could be a pigeon on his “last legs” – a curious expression in its own right, since bipeds only get two legs to start with. He stuck around a number of hours, and then I saw him no more.

This morning a noise made me check the pool skimmer cover, the circular plastic deck manhole covers that hide the working parts of a pool skimmer. When I pulled off the cover, out popped the pigeon as nice as you please. His feathers were ruffled but his disposition seemed fine. He strolled around the pool patio for a while, grooming himself. Later I saw him fly up to a gate rail, joining two doves. So at least he could fly. An hour later, he was gone. I checked the pool skimmer, and he wasn’t in there, so I guess and hope he resumed his journey to wherever he was headed.

Monday I called a couple of tree companies for bids on trimming our six palms, and an overgrown olive tree. The first guy said he was driving, and would call me back in 20 minutes. He called back in an hour and a half. He set a time of 4PM to give me an estimate, and said he’d call half an hour before arriving. I warned him I had to leave at five. He called at four-thirty and arrived at ten of five. He told me he could “do it” the next day for $550, “the best price in town”. No written estimate; he let me look at a figure “550” he had scratched on his scratch pad. The work is, in fact, pretty standardized in the Valley, but “do the job” somehow lacks the specificity of a real agreement.

I ran my own painting company for 6 years, way back in “another lifetime”. I’m death on contractors who can’t keep their word on “little” things like punctuality. If he couldn’t keep to his own arrival estimates when all he had to do was bring himself, how well could we reasonably expect him to manage scheduling and supervising an entire crew? I didn’t tell him this. I just thanked him and said I’d let him know.

The next guy said he’s be here between 8 and 10 this morning. The doorbell rang at 8AM sharp. I liked him, and actually learned something about our trees.

The skinnier palms are washingtonia robusta – easier to climb. The fatter ones are Californian fan pams – harder to climb. To most of us, they’re all just “fan palms” – shapely and beautiful, but messy. Last year’s growth dies back annually, and droops down to form a “sweater” around the upper trunk. They also send out shoots in July that drop thousands and thousands of berry-like seeds into the pool (see picture in last year’s article).

Once you trim off the dead fan-shaped leaves, that leaves a bristly pine-cone stubble. For $20 extra a tree, this can be shaved off too, leaving smooth bark all the way up into the canopy. That is what we used to do before our Tongan tree guy went out of business.

The olive tree in the front yard was pruned on its lower reaches a few years back, but is starting to sag over the driveway, and “sucker” shoots have emerged to completely hide the shape of the lower trunk. Guy #2 explained exactly what limbs he was going to take and why that part of his bid would come to $180 alone.

So guy #2 will email his written bid of $640. He can do the work next Tuesday. He knows his trees (I know more about it than I let on). He’s licensed, bonded and insured. If he follows through, sounds like he’s got it.

And it looks like the weather will be cooler next week. This week, they’ve upped the weather alert to 117 peak temperature on the Fourth. “Have a safe and sane”, and if you’re in the Phoenix area, stay in the shade or go back indoors.

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1 thought on “Pigeons and Palms

  1. Either the black pigeon never left, or he returned, and this time his luck ran out. I came out with a large pan of water for heat-distressed critters, only to find Mr. Pigeon had again jumped into the pool, made it to the skimmer intake, and gotten himself stuck underwater.

    I accepted the bid of tree trimmer guy #2 and he will do the work next week. He seemed more interested in my business annually than just for a single “job”, so I am hopeful I will be happy with the results.

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