The time has finally come; it’s moving day tomorrow. After weeks of preparation, boxes are packed and all is in readiness. The dog, the cat and even the canary are going, but alas I’m staying put.
Not enough room for me at the new retirement place it seems. Even if that were not so, I would have special needs regarding transport and require a small army of minders. Besides, at my age it’s unlikely I would survive the journey, let alone resettle successfully. No, I shall remain here and hope to build a connection with the new folk, assuming they’re huggers and not muggers, that is.
I’m a tree you see, but the people in this household call me Travis.
Since 1932 I’ve stood sentry here at the handsome property that is No. 3 Lincoln Grove, having been tenderly planted as a seedling by the original owners, Sir James and Lady Sybil Fothersdyke. This almost ceremonial event was watched by their toddler son, Thomas, in whom Sir James hoped to instil his own passion for matters arboreous.
Given Thomas and I were more or less the same size at that time, you might say we grew up together. He and I were particularly close in those early years; indeed I became his imaginary friend until he reached his sixth or seventh birthday. It was young Tom who, with his limited and lisping language, bestowed upon me the name Travis, or to be more precise, Twavis.
After Sir James and Lady Sybil passed on, Thomas and his family inherited the estate, minus a significant part of the garden that his parents bequeathed to the local Council for preservation as a public park. With the stroke of a pen, I became a community exhibit now living outside, rather than inside the fence.
Nevertheless, Tom’s care and attention has never wavered and he still uses my name.
Yesterday, in one last stroll around the neighbourhood, he took this keepsake photograph and yes, I know what you’re thinking. As trees go, I present as drab, boring and nondescript, but in truth I’m just a horticultural version of other octogenarians you might encounter in the street or a nursing home. Beneath their weathered skin, chest-high trousers and ubiquitous brown cardigans are stories and experiences to knock your socks off.
And I can tell you that beneath the dreary perception of this winter snapshot, I too enjoy an energetic, varied and amazing existence, especially given it all takes place whilst rooted to the same spot!
I’ve been privy to Thomas’ secrets, sorrows and skulduggery as a little’n and later as he and his college chums found my ample canopy the perfect haven to talk and experiment in everything from tobacco to tequila.
I’ve played host to society tea parties, children’s camp-outs and unbecoming trysts.
Unlike my evergreen companions in this lawn, for whom it’s just same old, same old, all year round, as an ornamental pear I can boast chameleon qualities.
I embrace the romantic mood of spring and summer with a fluffy Dolly Varden pose, when my lavish display of pink and white blooms resemble a low floating cloud. Their heady fragrance permeates the air day and night, while on a soft breeze their petals drift gently to earth, forming a carpet of snow at my feet. Bridal parties, in fact lovers young and old, gravitate toward me for photo sessions or moments of unabashed ardour.
But it is in the balmy stillness of autumn when the dandy in me really comes to the fore and I become my most flamboyant. I delight in the attention as sightseers arrive to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at my dazzling flamenco blaze of red, orange and gold. Boring? Nondescript? Not me; this is my time to shine.
Of course my life, just like yours, is not all fancy outfits and fun times. We trees are not immune to pain and suffering, and my sense of humour is challenged often.
For instance, I’m a home to endless birdlife, but sadly they’re poor housekeepers and I can wait a long time for a shower in a drought year. Meanwhile, it’s lucky I’ve not morphed into a Liquidambar, such is the volume of burning fluid emptied onto my trunk and feet by late night revellers or passing canines.
A regiment of ants can have me itching for days, but worst of all, as you can see, I spend the coldest and bleakest months standing stark naked in the street!
Ultimately I am sustained, as we all are, by love. Thomas and I have each reached a crossroad in our lives and our long relationship. He is leaving to spend his dotage elsewhere and it is likely I will still survive him by decades.
But all those years ago, when Sir James chose to share his exotic tree with the wider district, he knew it was a gift that would keep on giving. I am blessed by nature with attention-grabbing features and I’ll continue to put on the best show in town as he intended.
Do come and visit, dear reader; however if you want a picture, please don’t photograph me bare as Tom has done. At my age, even a tree looks better dressed.
Bio: Lorraine wrote this piece for her writers’ group meeting where the theme was a tree and based on an image, and that is why the tree image has been included. She hopes you enjoy it.