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Astoria Characters: The Petal Pushers

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The sweeping starts with the first blush of spring. In the beginning, it's whisper soft. But as the roses bloom and their fragrant petals stoop to kiss the pavement, it takes on a frantic urgency.

Sweep, sweep, sweep. SweepSweepSweep. All those plunging petals and so little time to get them up! SweepSweepSweep the sidewalks clean.

Before long, the Petal Pushers, in housecoats and hair curlers, in pumps and pearls, are in full spring swing. Like crocuses popping up out of the ground, they burst out of their houses armed with dust pans and whisk brooms ready to free the world of the pesky petals.

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Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
A rose is a rose is a rose is a pest.

Morning, noon and by the light of the moon, they sweep till they drop, gathering their rosebuds -- and mine -- while they may. Alas, don't tell them that they've already had their day.

What have the rose petals done to deserve such hate and ill-fated fate?

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Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
The Petal Pushers see the beast in the beauty.

"The pavement should be spotless," one Petal Pusher says, scooping up some ruby-red rose petals.

One of her peers, the same one who has been seen gleefully tossing empty cardboard pizza cartons into the street, says the petals are pests every bit as bad as bedbugs.

"We used to have a tree out front," she says authoritatively. "And do you know that every fall the leaves fell off?"

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Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Making a clean sweep.

How scandalous!

"And we had to clean them up," she says. "It's things like this that we must stop."

Sweep, sweep, I weep, weep.

Somebody, I thought, has to save the petals for posterity. After all, they are only with us such a short time. Surely they deserve to bloom their fullest before they rest in peace.

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Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
The rallying cry: The pavement must be petal-free!

So I decided to take matters into my own hands, which have yet to outfit themselves with a dust pan or a whisk broom.

I kept an ear out and every time I heard the SweepSweepSweep, I planted myself outside and took my case to the Petal Pushers.

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Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
A dust pan and whisk broom are the weapons of choice.

The rose petals, I told them, are beautiful. I love to see them lying on the ground, soaking up the sun; they remind me of weddings. On my property, leave them be, I pleaded.

The Petal Pushers nodded solemnly and, cross their dear little hearts, promised never to do it again.

So it was that I, the thorn, got the sweeping to stop. I must admit that I spent a fair amount of time congratulating myself on nipping this problem in the bud.

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Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
Rose petals ready for the trash.

I didn't have much time to rest on my precious petals, though. The next morning, my ears were assaulted by another sound.

Clip, clip clip. I looked out the window, and what did I spy but the Prime Petal Pusher. She had a hedge trimmer in hand, a trash can by her side and a big smile on her face.

By the time I got there, she'd chopped the bushes down.

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Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling
At my place, the petals are doomed to fall no more.

"I did what you said," she told me, all sunny innocence. "I stopped sweeping the petals. No more will fall on the ground."

Such a surprisingly simple and sage solution! I wonder why I never thought of it.

Nancy A. Ruhling may be reached at Nruhling@gmail.com.
Copyright 2011 by Nancy A. Ruhling