To the editor:

Eighteen years ago, with little money in my pocket, I went to an end of season sale at a local nursery. I heard a spindly little hydrangea in an oversized pot calling my name. I spoke to it, promising I would nurture it back to health.

I was patient as it grew knowing it would magnificently flower one day. Three years later, it began to bloom, growing into a thing of immense beauty that everyone in our neighborhood has exclaimed over.

Last week, during the blistering heat, when I wasn't out each day to water, someone came along with pruning shears, under the cover of darkness or dawn and trimmed eight branches off the tree to the quick. The branches were gathered together and pushed under my fence, the flowers still vibrant.

What might have caused someone to do such a thing? Some branches did hang over the fence on the sidewalk side as they always have. People always take a step aside to pass by. Did someone walk their dog at night and walk into a branch? Were they scratched and angered by this? Does someone often ride their bicycle on the sidewalk and are annoyed when they pedal over to the side a bit? Does a handicapped person travel down the sidewalk because they cannot use the sidewalk on the opposite side?

Whatever the reason that caused someone to do this, why didn't you knock on my door and explain your upset? Did you think that I might not be willing to prune my tree if asked to? If this was simply vandalism, how could you?

During this time, when none of us know what to expect from day to day or even moment to moment, how could anyone have damaged such a thing of beauty? Shouldn't each of us preserve every innocent thing in our community that might enable us to enjoy a moment of beauty, to feel better among all the chaos, to appreciate nature?

The only thing I know is that is it up to each of us to take care of each other, to be considerate and thoughtful of each other, especially now. I'm afraid I feel violated and I now look at anyone that walks by with suspicion. What a shame.

Janet Smargie,