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tree!

Most everyone owns a tree.

Amorous couple #1 gets a liquid amber tree. Tall and thickly-leaved, its shadow is small but dense. As it moves with the sun, so do they.

Amorous couple #2 is way more amorous. They too get a liquid amber. She wears a long, strapless dress and they exchange passionate embraces. I wonder why they don’t get themselves a room. But kissing in the cool, breezy shade of a tree on a hot July day is so much more of a story, a painting, than getting themselves a room. They get points for their art.

I am myself under a sycamore. My novel sits unread while I take in the scenes around me, finally giving in to the urge to put pen to paper.

The conifer and its paltry shadow is owned by four men. By turns they smoke, check their cellphones, joke, take off their shirts and play some soccer.

The largest group is treeless. They play frisbee. They have a mat, some chairs, food, water. One of the girls steps away to do a yoga sequence — crow, head stand, wheel, and back up on her feet. As I watch the group play, I wonder about hierarchies. Do they have a Messi at one end, acknowledged great, and an xxx at the other, whose presence or absence this Sunday barely registers?

A man plays with his little daughter. He speaks Spanish to his wife. Another cycles past, precariously balancing a large plastic bag over one shoulder, steering the bike with one hand, slow, careful. A pregnant woman walks by. So do some people with dogs. One dog has a highly styled tail, and an even more styled head, dyed in three bands from front to back, pink, green, pink. Some teenagers walk in with a bike, and some slurpees. They stand around awkwardly, and I can’t tell what they plan to do. Maybe they don’t know either?

Cars flow relentlessly on the freeway behind, their hum matching the rustle of my sycamore’s leaves. The grass around me — ill-gotten greenery in this drought-ridden state — sways gently in the breeze, a bird chirps.

I get up to walk home, sun beating down.

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