Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14. Day 104. How much can a koala bear?

One of the things that impressed six-year-old me most about the new family home my parents had just bought was that the property had a name (that and the fact that I would have my own bedroom and would no longer have to share with my baby brother). I'd never known a house with an actual name before but our home had a sign over the gate that read Yaraandoo.  Later, much later, I learned that meant "place of the white gum" which was ideal because there was indeed the most perfect white gum tree in the back garden. It was a stately old thing with a circumference so wide that it would take three of us standing arms outstretched to circle the thing. We all desperately wanted to climb it but the lowest of branches was way out of our reach. It was the type of tree we always imagined should be home to a whole family of koalas (although not once did we ever see one). I say WAS because although my mother still lives in that home, the tree is no longer there. It was chopped down about 30 years ago and while I understand why I am still glad I was out of the country when it happened so didn't have to see it. In the end it came down to this. It was the tree or the house and quite possibly its occupants. The ghost gum was huge and very close to the house. The way it swayed in tropical Queensland storms scared the living sh*t out of my mother. The fact that she spent her life raking up the leaves it dropped also gave her the sh*ts, but that wasn't what led to its demise either. That type of tree has the nickname widow maker because of its tendency to drop giant limbs. Our tree had started to do just that and for the safety of all it had to go. As one who had sobbed for weeks when Judy in Seven Little Australians had died under a fallen gum, I knew about the lethal power of the eucalyptus tree but still I lament its passing. The sign is still over the gate but I rather think there should be something more like this carving in a tree on the university campus where I work. Nothing can replace a tree like that but something should be in its place. At least that's what six-year-old me thinks.

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