We are having some work done in the garden. We live on the ground floor of a terraced property that houses five flats and the landlord has recently embarked on revamping the garden. When I say ‘revamp’, I mean that the wonderful old bricks that had paved the ground since we moved in two years ago and, probably for a great number of years before, have been taken up and sold to another financially-endowed property owner, most likely in light of a deduction being made about their value and how sought after they are and, I’m guessing, they will be used as part of a restoration endeavour on another old house. The ground now homes a slapdash strip of concrete with a strange drain running partly through it (intended as a run-off for rainwater, but which doesn’t work for various glaring reasons) and a line of paving slabs looking like a runway for tiny planes, surrounded by equally miserable and neglectful-looking rocks, all harsh and jagged in appearance, as if belonging at the bottom of a nasty drop lined with broken glass and barbed wire. The slabs lead down to some steps that join up the top and bottom parts of the garden, where there used to stand a glorious apple tree that I had the pleasure of enjoying in view every day. Two days ago, I witnessed the desecration of this marvellous tree by a number of ‘arborists’, a name that suggests a definite oneness with nature, but whose definition and purpose is quite the opposite.
Acts like this piss me off for several reasons. First, there is never any warning or notification made to people living in any area where there might be trees of their sudden removal at an equivalently unexpected time- the same incident happened nearly a year ago at the front of the house where a majestic tree was one day brought down, for reasons that neither I nor anybody else, apart from those who authorised it, knows about. Second and, most poignantly, these trees are the only thing that save an area, wherever it may be, from looking like a sterile shithole. They transform the landscape of any part of the World; nature and greenery of any kind does this, in fact, but trees in their stature and incomparable beauty make a statement that only they can.
An array of natural beauty in an area not only makes it more appealing to people in terms of drawing them in for recreation and enjoyment of the scenery, not to mention making it more desired as a place to live, but also provides a haven for wildlife to nestle and thrive, enriching the surroundings in an intoxicating way. Being able to see and experience the sounds of a diverse range of animals, observe how they interact with the environment and, just feel serenity in the knowledge of their presence is one of my greatest pleasures in life and, encompassing all of that is my reverance and graciousness for the natural world. Trees, particularly, I have always felt closeness to and an immense respect for and, the act of one being torn down, the unyielding brutality of it, is grief-inducing. To end a life, any life, is abhorrent, but to mercilessly butcher with power-tools something that cannot fight back in a comparable way, that is also so vital to you and the Earth in which it thrives, just because you decided it on a whim is sickening. The runts of men, young ecological executioners who were hired to hack away at this beautiful being cheered uproariously as they did it, willingly ignorant to the nests and homes embedded in it and I could not contain my disgust.
Words cannot convey enough how upset this has made me, it feels like such a hollowness and helplessness at not being able to do anything to revive this aged and important being, but with this loss has also come a new perception, though bittersweet in its emergence. The skyline, though irreversibly altered by the absence of this tree, has been opened up to the view of the houses behind, which I initially felt averse to because of the sudden exposure, but, now, rather like the feeling it elicits of being part of a community, being less isolated in that way. The other, most unexpected and striking reality, is the one of a larger tree now being in central view, symmetrical, slender and delectably strapping in sight, whose network of branches mightily resembles a brain. The magnificence of this cerebral silhouette is supreme and I look forward to cementing my relationship with it and admiring its evolutions with the seasons and the shifting paintstroke sky.