It was something done in the veil of darkness after the neighbors had retreated from the muggy evening heat to their air-conditioned living rooms and prime-time viewing. It was not something to be conducted during daylight, and it has been kept secret—until now.  

     Perhaps humans enjoy displaying our strange behaviors—or perhaps we all possess an inner desire to come clean; regardless, I’ve chosen to expose our “dirty little secret” and openly confess to the citizens of the world.

     My husband and I have painted our dead yews green.

     The whole episode started this spring when five yews were planted in front of our home. According to the county ag agent in charge of yews, the planting was done correctly, and, because the yews were container grown bushes, three of them just died.

     Funds were low and the season late when we realized there was no hope for the struggling bushes. Two of the smaller yews remained healthy and green, but the three larger bushes turned a sickly yellowish brown. Soon, all green disappeared from their needles. They stood, three lifeless and barren bushes in a line along the front of the house with the two lush, green yews.

     Our choices were limited: pull up the dead yews and have gaping holes in the line of bushes or leave the brown yews alone—a stark symbol of our failure as horticulturists.

     Then my ever-clever husband hit upon a third option: spray paint the brownish-yellow yews green. And thus, our plans for The Painting began.

     We realized such a scheme would be deemed tacky by most, so it was decided The Painting would occur in the cover of darkness, at about 22 hundred hours. A trip to an out-of-town store for the spray paint would be necessary. After all, what if a local store clerk, in her desire to be helpful, asked us what the goods were for? To announce in one’s small home town the planned purpose would bring embarrassment upon our household. So, a trip to an impersonal store in another town was scheduled.

     The plan was being carried off flawlessly when a hitch developed at the impersonal store. My husband and I stood in the spray paint aisle examining the varied hues of green.

     “Here’s a green I think sounds perfect,” I said, pointing to a can of forest green with a satin finish. “This ‘forest’ color sounds promising.”

     My husband, however, clutched his own can with a green lid. “This is on sale!” he exclaimed. “I think it’s a perfect match.”

     I took the can from him, looking at the lid and color description. “It’s Kelly green. And what’s worse, it’s a gloss. We don’t want the yews to shine. No, this satin finish is a much better choice.”

     My husband’s eyes rolled toward the ceiling. I could see hin computing the monetary difference between the paints. After a few seconds, the financial result was announced. “The forest green will cost us thirty cents more. Since we don’t even know if this will work, I think we should save the money.”

     I’m a penny-pincher at heart, and my husband knows that. For the savings of thirty cents, his paint choice won, and we left for home with a can of glossy Kelly green.

     That evening, after sunset, we snuck out to the front yard, flashlight and Kelly green in tow. The Painting was done silently, and in a matter of minutes, our dead yews looked green and vibrant. It was a triumph of paint technology.

     I don’t know what our neighbors thought when they awoke the next morning to find our yews miraculously recovered overnight. Perhaps they guessed from the start. There were, after all, clues. The spray-painted yews were a few shades darker and bluer than the real yews. The dirt around the painted yews was the same color as the yews. And the worst part, the painted yews shone like newly waxed cars in the sun.

     You may drive by and look at our dead yews if you would like. If the sun is shining, you will need your sunglasses for optimum viewing.


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