Tuesday, 24 February 2009

For Patty...

...et alii who want the grizzly details of tree felling. I'd been quoted £195 for the work, plus £5 for applying a noxious substance to ensure no further growth of shoots or roots. Considering the years of joy the tree had given me, I considered this a fair deal.

Just after nine the truck plus tree shredder arrived outside - and pretty promptly disappeared. Had they changed their minds? Did the tree warn them off their murderous intent? Mine was not to reason why... until after half an hour or so, men and vehicle returned. When they stopped here the first time, apparently they'd discovered a slow puncture in one of their tyres, and pootled off to get it fixed before it had to cope with the impending weight of the sawn tree.

I stood at the kitchen sink, washing up the debris that accumulates in my kitchen whenever I'm in it, like iron filings that can't resist a magnet. Considering I mostly only have to cater for me, I do manage to use an inordinate amount of equipment for the simplest task. But enough of my woes. (I hate washing up!) I sploshed the hot suds around and watched the Man At Work.

The young Steve has lovingly tended my tree over the past ten years or more, giving it hair cuts from time to time, and keeping it in shape, so I've seen him turn from a baby faced youth just starting out in his own business, to a confident young man who scales the trunk like a mountaineer, swathed in ropes and shiny metal thingies with odd names like carrabiener - I think.

He climbs up out of sight of my window. Below, his father lobs a length of red cord to him, attached to a small chainsaw, which Steve hoists up and fixes to his belt with one of the shiny metal doodahs. No possibility of beheading anyone if he accidentally drops the saw! Both men wear fluorescent, yellowy, lime green jerkins, bright orange safety helmets and froggy looking goggles. Steve has ear muffs, too, which make his head seem like an insect with bulging, sideways facing eyes.

One by one, the small, leafy branches drop to the ground. Father gathers them and feeds the gaping maw of a large, bright orangey red shredder on a trailer behind the truck. The motor grinds and whines, and the chainsaw buzzes its less than musical tune.

Pale gold sawdust snow falls gently down over my refuse bins, and I soon have a golden carpet instead of a lawn. Once the smaller branches have been lopped, Steve calls to Dad for a larger chainsaw. The tree trunk grew bifurcated, and the centre of the Y shape gives Steve a secure foothold, once he arrives at that level. He cuts the thick branches in sections of about twelve inches each, and I watch as he slices through one until it is almost detached. He stops the saw, lowers it to dangle mid-air, while he manoeuvres the almost sawn through chunk until he can free it, hold it, then drop it safely to thud to the ground beneath. The pieces look small, but watching Dad pick them up, it becomes quite clear they are heavy.

Eventually, after three changes of size, the biggest saw starts on the thick lower trunk. By now, Steve is on a small aluminium ladder resting up against the tree. I had asked if it would be possible for me to have two or three seat height chunks from this, and Steve said 'No Problem'. So that's what he did. I now have them in my back garden. The men had to roll them, like mammoth wheels - they are so heavy. I couldn't even shunt one an inch sideways when I tried later, so I may be on the lookout for a weightlifter, come summertime, who'd be able to reposition them!

So endeth the era of the Eucalyptus. Strangely enough, because I still have virtually the whole of the lower trunk, it feels as though the tree is still here, and its only now, as I write this last paragraph, that the odd tear has trickled down.

I wrote the next lines for a very different occasion, many years ago, but suddenly thought they might be oddly applicable here.


Joined by a bond
closer than any
physical unity;
about a single nucleus,


  1. La jinksy, I felt the same about a tree in my old home we had to have felled after a storm - It was a Scots Pine and majestic - I left my pa-in-law to supervise and to ask for chunks to be left too - Of course, I should never have trusted him, and I was left bereft. I feel just as much an emotional bond to trees as you have so accurately depicted - I am glad you have the seat pieces left, even if they may be too hefty to move around for delicate you!

    Beatifully drawn, jinksy - You are so clever x

  2. we have a eucalyptus tree so one day i may have to go through this. it was bad enough when i had it pruned felt like i had mutilated it. it's perked up now. sadly they are not really a good choice for normal back garden as you know. lovely poem.

  3. YAY! You saved the some seats! What a could idea. And so sorry your friend is gone... I have certain trees that have been my friends for years, I've just never had to be around them long enough to see them go. (Always moving) hang in there. Jenni

  4. You (rightly) make the loss of a 'follower' seem very insignificant.
    I'm so sorry for the loss of your tree, but I'm glad you kept some of the wood.
    A couple of years ago a huge Acer Saccharum (or Saccharinum), a Sugar Maple, had to be removed from our garden because it threatened to fall on our house. So weighing the pro's and con's, we decided that the tree had to go before our home did. Hubs made some lovely tables from the wood. We treasure them, but I still miss the tree.
    Lots of love and (tree)hugs xxx

  5. Well, Jinksy - you've done it! I never thought that reportage on tree felling could ever be quite so lyrical or so utterly fascinating. What a truly wonderful observer and writer you are....and yes, the verse fits perfectly. How lovely!

  6. So sorry you lost your friend the Eucalyptus tree. But think how nice it will be to set on the stumps in your garden. Plus you won't have to worry about the roots doing damage to your plumbing. Still sad to see a tree taken down when it's been growing for so long.

    We have a cedar tree in the backyard, it's been there for 46 years. We planted it the first year we moved into this house. It's been trimmed up so we can walk under it, but the last few wind storms we've had, we just hold our breath, afraid it might go over. So we will have to have it checked out this Spring. Hope we don't have to remove it. We bought it one year to use as our first Christmas tree in this house, so it had a large ball of dirt bagged around the bottom. After it was planted, the kids would decorate it every Christmas with pop corn and cranberries. Finally it got too tall for them to reach except for some of the lower branches, also the kids got older and didn't want to do it any longer. But it's been a faithful old cedar standing guard out there all of these years.

    Really enjoyed your post. I'm off to do some grocery shopping and pick up some seed for the birds we feed. Have a great day.

  7. Hope you get a new friend to love soon. I love trees!

  8. Many bottles of scotch ago I had a dead tree in my back garden. I called in the local tree surgeon, who promptly declared it fully dead and chopped it down.

    When it came to selling the house some 18 months later, the local search showed up that that tree was under a preservation order and I was facing a £2000 fine of 6 months in the clink. Had a helluva job persuading the local authority that it was in fact dead.

  9. Sad
    Good Bye my deer old tree
    Long of root and careless too
    I will sorely miss your shade
    But it was the sewer or you

  10. What a TREEmendous post, my friend.
    Oh Im good as washing up!!

  11. Jinksy - I think it's lovely that you saved a few hunks big enough to be seats. Good on you!

  12. If there is anything in the world I could choose to come back as, it would be as an oak tree. At the back of our garden we have a glen, there is a right of way through it, but we are responsible for ensuring the safety there. Many of the trees are nearing the end of their cycle, and when the storms come, I gingerly go down to inspect - banning the children until the all clear. The trees are protected, any suspect ones need to be inspected first by the Forestry commission before permission is granted to fell it. This glen is both the joy and the bane of my life, it is a costly spot to maintain. I wouldn't swap it for the world. Smile.

  13. I love that you got some seats from your old friend before it as gone!

  14. I do sympathise with your loss. I do know how much a tree like that can come to mean. Nice to know you have at least retained the lower branch.

  15. Aw, a friend of sorts lost. But you had it for ten good years.

  16. As a wise woman who shall remain nameless (cough-Jinksy) once said - love is one of the strongest forces of nature.


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