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Tree disaster averted

We were still away on our Christmas holiday when we received an email from a neighbour, telling us a large branch on a pine tree had broken and was dangling above and next to our house. They knew we were away, and were worried that in a big wind it might damage our house. This was not an empty concern. Big winds are what Wellington is known for. We asked for a photo, and checked the weather forecast. Then we decided we could delay another day, and travel home as planned.

When we got home, this is what we saw. A branch at least 3-4 metres long, with numerous side branches covered in pines, was broken and dangling dangerously close to our bedroom roof and wall.

A large branch that could easily be caught in a big wind and damage the house. The pine tree has a very thick trunk, and we expect that it has been here since the time of the original house on the section, well before ours was built in the 1970s. When I first moved in, I didn’t really like the pine trees. But I’ve grown fond of them, looking up into their sculptural branches laden with pine cones. Though these same branches do occasionally give us a fright if small sections (1-2 metres long) break off in the wind. The tui and other birds play in the branches, and we sit and look at them when we have evening drinks on the deck.

So we called the tree surgeons. They said they’d call back in 24 hours. But this was the time between Christmas and New Year, and they didn’t. (We saw a truck with their name on it at work in another suburb, chopping down a lovely stand of poplars that I have always enjoyed, and even wanted to feature one day on a Thursday Treelove post. Sigh for several reasons!) Then New Year intervened, and still now word. Seven days later, another neighbour – who knew the story having chatted with my husband – contacted us and offered to cut the branch down for us if we continued to get no response from the tree companies. We gratefully accepted his offer, especially given the forecast of a storm in a few days. He has worked in trees and even in a cathedral taking down an organ after an earthquake, so knew exactly what he was doing, and had the necessary safety gear. He clambered about the tree like the young thing he is! It took a whole morning, and my husband – who was anchoring things on the ground – was injured, only mildly fortunately, unexpectedly pulled forward into a wooden fence by the shock of the weight of only half the branch.

Our neighbour refused to accept payment – but he will get it in the form of a large Bunnings voucher (he is a builder by trade) in due course. And we happily sat on our deck earlier this week looking once again at the tree and the birds in it.

Another in the Thursday Tree Love series – find all the other bloggers doing it here.

Joy in the little things

I went on a lovely walk one morning last week, when the temperature wasn’t too hot and wasn’t too cold, and I wasn’t in a hurry, and there was only a light breeze, and everything felt just right. I was enchanted, as usual, by the pohutukawa flowers which are still vibrant on many trees, but not for much longer, as the feathery stalks of the falling blooms were carnage on the footpaths and in gutters.

I was equally enthralled by the beauty of the weeds, the way they swayed in the uncharacteristically gentle wind, their size and very existence creating a pleasing, relaxed, everyone’s-on-holiday degree of overgrown unkemptness. (Yes, I’m inventing words).

Appreciating what we have, even the weeds, I snapped a few photos with my phone.

I did a review post on my other blog, and I thought it might be an idea to look back on blogging here too, in what was a very weird year for everyone.

I wrote 78 posts last year, 14 more than the previous year. It might have had something to do with the fact that at the start of the year, a group of blogging friends began another blogging challenge, less rigid than our previous, daily project in 2018. I wrote 21 blogs as part of our project, on topics we decided on together. As the year progressed, we ran out of steam – but if any year is going to make us run out of steam, 2020 was it! Regardless, blogging with friends is fun, and I hope we get to do it this year in some form too.

Fifty of my posts were written on Mondays, or maybe a sneaky Tuesday, but still labelled Microblog Mondays. I do it as part of Mel’s community, and it is a good discipline to ensure I blog once a week. I also got into blogging about trees on the second and fourth Thursdays, with an international group on Parul’s blog. I don’t usually know the names of trees, but it has given me a new way to look at trees as I go about my days.

I write lists – Blogging tip #1: when in doubt, write a list – whenever I begin to lose my mojo, or I am in a rush. Though sometimes, it is just the best way to say what I want to say.

I write about road trips, and friends, and food, and feminism, and pretty much anything. I generally steer clear of party politics or religion. I write about things that drive me crazy, or things that make me happy. I wish I was more deliberate about the art of writing though. Too often (to my frustration) I realise it is Monday, and dash out an impromptu post, without too much thinking, without any art. So what you get is often unplanned, unedited, and frequently unabridged. That’s me, I guess. I hope you don’t mind.