Just over the crest of Wakeman’s Hill there used to be a house that my children were very frightened of when they were little. The path to the front door was overshadowed by huge pine trees; making it seem like a portal to a darker place, “where clowns live”.
For some time only one of these trees has survived. It stood impossibly tall and straight like an arboreal member of the Brigade of Guards. An imported species, with no local eco system to keep it company, it nevertheless had a certain dignity, respectably keeping itself to itself as befits life in a suburb.
On Saturday it was under assault. A hectic squad of tree butchers were bustling around a wood chipper, grinding and spitting through its amputated lower limbs. High up over their heads, a “tree surgeon” in a hard hat stood on the stumps of these, bent on arboricide and rapidly slicing his way though more with a chain saw, which he sometimes let drop to swing from the rope on his belt as he climbed higher. The effect on the pine was to make its remaining foliage resemble an arrow head on a long shaft, that was pointing accusingly at the sky. “Father, father, why hast thou forsaken me?”
An hour later, coming back from the shop a strong smell of pine resin covered the hilltop as a parting gift and lingering presence, an aromatherapy of death.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the hill, a foxglove had somehow managed to grow and bloom in the gutter. Life finds a way.