The West Australian, Saturday, Weekend: trees & heat


It’s getting hot. You can feel it. And, as usual, I’ve left the heavy gardening until the last minute.

When I say the last minute, I mean that minute before the local ranger drops by and says: “You got a house under there, or you living up that tree?”

I love trees, always have, right from the very beginning when my father brought me down for the first time.

One thing I hate doing, is bringing them down, but sometimes a man has to do what another man didn’t, or won’t.

I live in the hills around Kalamunda and a man before me planted a lot of wild and outrageous tress that belong on other continents.

Then I turned up and planted a lot of trees that belong on this continent but on the other side and, I don’t know about you, but I am a patriotic Western Half of Australia and anything from the other side is fine with me as long as it stays there, or is visiting.

Trees don’t visit. If they drop by they tend to stay forever and before you know it, they have take over your garden, your suburb, your city, your psyche.

That’s why I blame most of our current problems on the wattle, not our wattle, the Golden Wattle, the one eastern folk refer to as our national emblem.

It’s isn’t, because to be truly national it must belong to all states, all environments. It doesn’t and is symbolic of a typical eastern-centric view of the world.

We have our very own wattles and if I could remember their names I would record them here and now.

I have three of them in my garden. They are tall, handsome and proud, as you would expect from a native Westerner and when they blossom they do so with decorum and aplomb.

Not a plum, aplomb.

A plum is a small fruit which, when dried, is known as a prune. When you get to my age you’ll know all about prunes and their therapeutic value.

The bloke before me planted a prune tree at the back of the house. I say prune because I never saw a plumb. By the time I got to the tree, right after the 28 parrots, all that was left was a dried bit of plum, so I took it out.

Not to the movies or anything like that, far from it, I took it out to the road where another bloke came along with a machine that mulches garden debris and then you throw it all back where it came from.

He calls himself The Mulcher Man and when working he sings “Mulcher Mulcher Mulcher man” to the tune made famous by the Village People, or ABBA, I forget which, but certainly a group of people wearing clothes not normally seen in my street.

Now this brings me to the point, or something that might resemble a point if a point is what you are looking for.

Cutting down trees is a thing that men and women have done ever since they learnt to cook meat and sleep out in the open on a cold night without a blanket.

The trouble is there has been too much of it ever since the Romans built forts and the Dutch made clogs and if we don’t watch ourselves soon there will be no wood to touch.

Touching wood is something we need to do when we are hoping the thing we just mentioned won’t ever happen and the thing that will ensure it will never happen is the touching of wood.

Ok, you still waiting for the point?

The point is, these days, the taking out of the tree is made too easy.

For a start, there is the chain saw.

Then there is the D9 bulldozer.

Not lot of people in my street us a D9, but they do resort to the motorised spinning chain and once fired up it takes about a minute to bring down a standard wattle and, even if it is a weed I planted myself, I think it is deserving of some respect.

As a consequence, whenever I take a tree out or down I use an axe.

An axe makes you work hard, sweat hard and use the rhythm method.

There are only a couple of things that excite more than finding the rhythm of the swinging axe. I’d like to mention them but given this is Saturday morning and the kids are looking over your shoulder, it is probably not the time or place and, besides, I’m getting hot.

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