Friday, March 20, 2015

Don't fall in love with a tree

Dear reader, don't fall in love with a tree. 
 I did. How could I help it? From the balcony of my apartment I look out on it every day. Beyond the cypress, and in front of the sea, there it stands through all seasons. In summer it leafs greenly, and in autumn turns to yellow. You will have seen this tree before in my blog posts.
In winter when the leaves drop, it flares brightly, for this is a flame tree. Its lower branch holds a swing for children to use. They live in the apartment block next door, and I often hear their laughter.
 The tuis flock from far and wide to sip nectar from flowers. I hear them chortling and croaking in the branches as they flit, black and sleek between the red cups of nectar.
 At the end of the day, the setting sun caresses the sturdy trunk and sets the flowers aglow all over again.
 Every morning as I exercise or eat my breakfast on the balcony, my eyes sweep out and over this tree. It is my daily companion. And so, I fell in love. Love at first sight, to tell you the truth, but also a love that grows tenderly over the years.

And so, dear reader, you can probably imagine how I felt when I heard the chain saw screaming through the air.

 My client saw it first. 'A branch has just fallen from the tree,' he said. 'You'll have a better view of the sea now.'
I didn't want a better view of the sea. I wanted my tree.
By the time my client had left, and I dared to look out, many major branches had already been cut.
 These photos were taken in haste, not like the loving, lingering photos of the whole tree that you saw earlier.

I phoned the Council immediately. 'We'll check the Resource Consent,' they said.

I put on my coat and ran. Ran up our steep driveway and out the gate. Ran along the street and round the corner. Ran down to the piece of public land that runs along towards the tree on the neighbour's property.

'Who's in charge?' I asked the lounging workmen, waiting with their empty truck to take the debris away. 'No one,' they said and laughed.
I ran towards the tree. One man was tied to the top, and another on the ground held the ropes.
'What's happening?'
'It's coming down,' said the bloke on the ground, and laughed, showing gaps in his teeth.
But the bloke up the tree understood. He stopped the chain saw.
'The trunk has rot in it,' he said. 'We're removing the weight from all these branches so that it doesn't fall over.'
'We are trying to save the tree.'
My pounding heart began to slow down.
He got the other guy to take me round the back of the trunk. I had to scramble over a tangle of cut limbs and bushy foliage. Sure enough, I saw the rot, and understood what they were doing.

As I left, I passed the neighbours who had come out of their apartments to watch. A suave gentleman called out mockingly, and the other workmen did too.

'The pohutukawas are going next,' they jeered. As I left I heard their laughter.
Dear reader, never fall in love with a tree.

You may be seen as a crazy old woman or man.

But when the chain saw tears through the branches, you will feel as if your own limbs are being severed. And when you look out in your favourite direction in the morning, and see the damage, it will hurt. Even though it's all for your own good.


Ruth P said...

Oh dearest Juliet

What a tough, tough day (and it is amazing you were able to stay fairly focussed on work with your client until their session was over).

I hope you can find the space and opportunity to do what you need to with and for your tree.

And I hope you have supportive local companions who can be with you at this sad time and perhaps deflect any unthinking or out of tune wider comments or stares.

And perhaps, as with many losses of loved ones, you might find that in time your life continues to be enriched and nourished by the relationship you have had and continue to experience (as you feel the benefit of that love in your ongoing life and heart).

Wishing you gentle days at this time


Anonymous said...

Oh NO! How awful that people should tease and mock. But thank goodness this is only an attempt to bring health back to the tree. A few months ago I thought my new neighbours were cutting down the old apricot tree on the fence line. They too were only trimming it but I rushed out with my heart in my mouth to see what the saw was all about.

Juliet said...

* Ruth, thank you so much for your sympathetic comment. I've come out to the bach for some time out. Here I am surrounded by flourishing trees, many of which I've planted or watched growing up from seedlings. A tui sang to me in the kanuka as the sun went down. A gentle day, just as you wished for me.

* Gallivanta, so you rushed out too! I'm so glad that your tree was OK.

Thank you, Ruth & Gallivanta.

Penny O'Neill said...

As I am sure you could imagine, I, too, would have been out the door and down the path in an instant, Juliet. We crazy, impassioned tree lovers can only hope to save a few trees from needless destruction. Good for you for running to the flame tree's defense. Ah, but it is hard to be a lover of a tree - but, I am glad you are one, my friend.

Hotly Spiced said...

That is such a shame. I do hope the tree can be saved but it will be many years before it is as impressive as it once was. In the meantime, I hope the improved water view is a little bit of compensation. I do love the seasons of this tree and hearing about the swing for the children - how sad for them xx

Juliet said...

* Charlie, I think it will be some time before the tree grows a new top, and it may never have the lovely shape that it once had. But I hope it can be saved. Thank you.

Marja said...

So sorry to hear. I have a weakness for trees so I can see your worry. Good on you to come up for them. Hopefully the tree will be saved and recovers.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Juliet - the shock of not knowing what was going on - I can quite understand your feelings and we do attach ourselves to lovely growth, that renews itself year on year ...

Sorry that it's happened .. it may save your tree .. but as you say it won't be the same ... take care and enjoy the bach ... cheers Hilary

Juliet said...

* Marja, it's so nice to be in the presence of other tree lovers. Thank you.

* Hilary, yes it was the shock and suddenness of it. It it were me organising the arborist, I would have let my neighbours know.

Thank you Marja & Hilary. I could't load this page from the bach, but am back on broadband now.

Nadezda said...

Maybe the workers are right, Juliet? maybe they save the tree you felt in love? And maybe it will grow well in next year?
The worse is when tree was sawed for the place of new building, new parking, etc.

Juliet said...

Nadezda, I am hoping that the arborist is able to save the tree, and can accept the actions in that light. However, if the neighbours had informed everyone it would have saved a lot of distress.