If I learned anything from this season's ocean-spawned storms, it's that nature, especially when it's in a snit, is a terrible landscaper. For those of us who thought mowing the lawn and weeding the flowerbeds was enough maintenance for the summer, Tropical Storm Cindy's tree-trimming service was quite an eye-opener.

Talk about a fly-by-night operation. She blew into town, took down scads of dead limbs (and even some healthy ones) and toppled trees and fences, then left without cleaning up her mess. The wench even tossed branches and limbs in my yard that couldn't even be identified as having come from my block. Worst of all, she wasn't careful at all about where she let the deadwood fall -- on power lines, roofs, in the street -- then she breezed out of town without so much as an apology while we who live here went to work with our rakes and elbow grease. She left thousands of people and businesses without power for quite a time, long enough to thaw out freezers and generally make people sweat.

For me, it was a wake-up call to pay more attention to the condition of my trees and to choose companies that employ trucks and saws instead of Cindy's tools of winds and rain. Luckily Hurricane Dennis passed up his chance to expound on Cindy's local landscaping ventures, but now Emily looks like a menace and we've still got several months left in hurricane season. I can't control Mother Nature, but perhaps I can out-tool her with pruning shears and a rake.

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