He had arrived with his bob-cat to pull out some star pickets, twenty of them, that were embedded deep in my garden. They had been supporting the standardised oleanders that lined my driveway. The oleanders had been cut off and disposed of for various reasons. The pickets were too difficult to remove by hand.

He was afraid of damaging the plants that stood between the machine and the pickets. For someone so young, he displayed great maturity, and his agility and mobility on that awesome machine were almost poetic, like watching an athlete perform.

‘This is a friggin’ big outfit,’ he said pleasantly, and I agreed. However, he took great care and under my supervision and guidance, there was not much upheaval to the plants...the day lilies and Mexican sage, the lavender and agapanthus, to say nothing of the begonias and shasta daisies. I asked him if he could put the star pickets behind my shed, as they were a trifle unwieldy for a geriatric like myself. ‘They’re friggin’ heavy all right,’ he mused.

We chatted about the politics of the mountain between pickets; how I wished I had removed the gumtrees at the front of my yard when they were little saplings. Now, as huge ghost gums, it would cost a fortune to have just one of them cut down...if the council would allow it, and the public clamour not too deafening. ‘Yair,’ he agreed, ‘They’re a bunch of friggin’ protesters up here all right. There’d be a friggin’ outcry if you even had them trimmed.’

I summed him up as being a rough diamond.

Growing in the cloth binding that had been left on top of one of the pickets was a tiny tree fern and what looked like an orchid of some kind. I asked him could he take great care in removing that one, and could he, or rather could the jaws of the huge bobcat hand it to me instead of dumping it on the ground. ‘No friggin’ worries,’ he replied.

In no time, the jaws had grabbed the picket that was under the jacaranda...the stake with the fern in the binding. Out it came and he swung the massive clenched teeth to the drive. Carefully, he loosened the grasp and then he leapt from the cabin. Tenderly, he took the picket daintily from its position, and then handed it (upright, with the greenery on top) to me, with a flourish...almost theatrical. With a beaming smile, he presented it to me. ‘For you, m’dear,’ quoth he.

I accepted the delicacy with as much elegance as was possible, as one would a bouquet. My smile was radiant I am sure.

Rough diamond? Precious gem, rather.