Yesterday, I watched workmen fell a tree in the garden of my local pub.
The pub is being refurbished. It has been closed since Christmas and, as I pass it most days, I have seen the work progress with interest. I am certainly been looking forward to it reopening later this spring.
They have done a lovely job to the interior and have now turned to the garden but the hacking down of a large, mature tree took me by surprise and upset me.
I guess I am a tree-hugging hippy at heart, but the ones that grow in my neighbourhood are familiar faces to me. Every year I watch the leaves bud in the spring and turn gold in the autumn. I know the shapes of their trunks and boughs; some majestic, some creepy, some humorous. They are my friends and I silently say hello to them as I walk through the park or down a tree-lined street.
This particular tree was one of the funny ones. It looked like a giant pair of upside-down legs and buttocks sticking out of the ground. I liked it because it made me giggle. Now it is gone. I hadn't even photographed it to record it for posterity - although I had intended to.
In the morning, the workmen took a chainsaw to it. The raw stump was all that was left in the ground as I walked by. By the time I returned, much later in the day, even that had gone. The hole had been filled and a pristine new wall ran across the spot it had once stood.
I felt a great sense of loss.
I also believe that people shouldn't be allowed to hack down mature trees without a good reason. Trees help keep the air in our cities breathable. They are a necessity.
Sometimes one becomes diseased and needs to be removed before it crashes down and kills someone, but shedding leaves on someone's 4x4 or blocking a little sunlight from a garden is hardly a capital offence, in my opinion. At the very least people should be required to plant a new tree for every mature one they cut down.
I am still looking forward to my local pub reopening but, when I sit in its garden this summer, I will still be mourning the loss of a tree that made me laugh.