Hilda Oakley

Australian author and poet

   Jan 06

The Day They Took the Tree Away

Thunder roared!  Lightning flashed across the sky.

Out for a quiet walk, then holding hands, they ran to their favourite tree.  Wild was the storm.  Nothing could keep them apart.  Their hearts were pounding, racing, throbbing.

They enjoyed the privacy of this place.  They had their first kiss and burning desire here, but their bodies craved more.  The glow on their faces for all to see showed everyone just what can happen under that magic, ginormous tree.  Many years before, they had carefully and delicately carved their initials in its trunk.

Planted as a seed and nurtured every day, they watched as it struggled to grow.  It was amazing.  First, a little leaf emerged and then it grew and grew until it was tall and regal.  Helped by Mother Earth, little did anyone realize what would happen in the future.

Children climbed on the huge branches pretending they were their horses.  The air was filled with great excitement and squealing of delight.  Smaller children played chaises’ around the trunk.  It was a place to have laughter and fun.

Birds were singing in the tree-top like a heavenly choir, while the female birds made their nests in the outer branches where they could hatch their eggs and bring-up their wee chicks.
At night there was a quiet coo of the owls, with a soft twit-to-woo.

One afternoon Cyan and Carl were nearly caught, after sneaking out of their windows for another lovers tryst.  They raced out of sight behind the tree as it was tall and wide.  Anyone could hide behind the huge trunk and not be seen.

Sacred was this tree to the indigenous people.  It was a beautiful sight to see while sitting around the fire.  No-one went there at night except the aboriginal men, as they performed spiritual rites ceremonies, initiating the young boys into manhood using the woomera.  The haunting noise was the melody from the didgeridoos moaning in the background.

The wind blew through the branches of the tree, woosha, woosha.  A morbid sound, it was almost like groaning.  Another sound like sobbing broke the silence, coming from near the tree.  A mother and her two daughters sought comfort from it.  The roots were like a haven, protecting them and surrounding them with love from their enduring pain.  They hugged each other and a healing and understanding came to them, bonding them together at last.  It was all over a silly quarrel and the daughters rebelled by running away.  Krystal and her daughters Opal and Ruby were now all glad to be together again.

It had been a quiet evening when suddenly a shrill squeal split the night air.
“No! No! You can’t do it!” Opal cried.

Krystal and Ruby sprang out of bed and flew into Opal’s room.  “Hush! It’s not true,” they reassured her.  “It’s just a nightmare.”  Talking softly her mother said, “No-one will take the tree away.  They wouldn’t dare.”

Oh how wrong she was.

Although the tree was huge and strong, it was fallible.

Noisy protesters were up early and the scene was getting out of hand.  They were rioting about the tree being cut down.  ‘Save our tree!’ was written on their banners.  They were arm in arm, surging forward around her.

A short time later, in came the heavy machinery.  It pushed back the protesters and broke up the mob, with the help of the police force.  The protesters still stood there defiant between the dozer and the tree.

Out from the crowd stepped a short, but feisty young lass.  She stood directly in front of the bull dozer with her arms raised in the air, and said, “Please sir, don’t take the tree away yet.  There are two couples being married under it here today.”

The foreman thought it over and eventually gave into her pleas, but finished with, “Rest assured lass, we will be back here again tomorrow to finish the job.”

x        x        x        x

Mother Earth groaned as a woman giving birth.

People were wailing, grieving, lamenting.  It was like a woman losing her child.

They wept as they bonded together, but all their protesting was in vain.

The local government bodies had the last say.  The tree was like a piece of collateral damage.  It had to go.  It needed to be removed, allowing a new freeway to be built.

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When Ruby and Opal returned from their separate honeymoons, they couldn’t believe that people were still in mourning over the loss of their favourite tree.

“Rise up out of your sorrow and rejoice in a new beginning.  The first thing to do is apologise to Mother Earth and to heal her wounds.  Then we can plant and dance the conga line.  Everyone from all over the world can join in.”

The aboriginals danced their tribal dancing.  Healing and restoration came by getting in touch with bodies and spirit, making them revitalized, brand new.  This sort of thing had never happened in the valley before.  Even the sceptics joined in and became believers.  In the end it was the best thing that had ever happened.  Neighbours who hadn’t talked to each other for years became friends again and many bonded together once more.

What happened was amazing.  Even the council became involved by giving trees and other flora, which was to be planted along streets and avenues along the council nature strips.  The only thing they asked in return was that the residents of each street regularly water the trees outside of their property, especially during the dry summer months.

As the trees grew, the streets were a mass of colour from the different shades of Bottle-brush, Wattle, Waratah, Banksia and Grevilleas.  The aroma was refreshing, restoring and alive.  To perpetuate that core of community, streets were named after this array of native plants.

One beautiful tree begat a fresh colony, creating a new harmony and genuine love of flora and fauna.

Hilda Oakley
Copyright © 08.10.2010

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