I woke to the sound what I thought was one of those heavy duty strimmers that ‘gardeners’ seem to wield these days. You probably know the sort. They're carried by this new breed of professional gardener with his own van and t-shirt emblazoned with his own logo whose idea of gardening is planting nothing but attacking everything with a strimmer and a look of mania in his eyes.
The noise has been going on all morning but I’ve only just relealised it’s actually a chainsaw and that somebody is chopping down the enormous evergreen that stands on the empty ground behind our house. It’s so sad. It feels like somebody is cutting into my flesh but then I always get emotional when I see people cut down trees.
I love trees. I’m probably what you’d call a 'tree hugger' except rather than being one of those beaded types with whale stickers on the bumper of their tricycles, I’m actually the kind of person who does hug trees. Trees are one of the few natural things we experience in our lives that make us feel small, whose existence extends beyond our lifetimes. You can measure our lives by our trees: the trees you remember planting, trees you remember your father planting. It’s why I assume there are always people who want rid of trees, people who believe in making their mark on their neighbourhood. When I moved here, there were lots of trees in neighbouring gardens but as new neighbours came in, they chopped down their trees and then made us chop down some of ours. They are people who choose decking and plastic imitation street lamps over trees.
The tree that’s now gone was so big it was home to the entire local population of blackbirds, sparrows ,tits, and, unfortunately, magpies. I suspect it’s the magpies that doomed the tree. We’ve been overrun with them this year, waking everybody at dawn with their screams, even coming into houses attempting to steal food. I’ve had them tapping on my windows at 6am and cursed them every time but never wanting the tree taken down.
That tree was the last line of defence. The next tree they’ll come after will be the beautiful old red maple that sits at the bottom of the garden. I love that tree but I know that there will the day when somebody will come knocking on the door explaining why I should agree to chop down the last proper tree in the neighbourhood. I’ll refuse, of course, and have tears in my eyes as I do so. They’ll look at me with surprise that anybody could invest such emotion to a tree and it will be hard to explain why I’d rather they take me than that tree.
Okay, I have two fillings to pay for and I need to work.