I said goodbye to my shade-spreading tree

I planted a tree in the middle of my front garden seven years ago and it has grown into a beautiful mature tree spreading its branches across my garden. Not only does it shade my house from the blazing heat during the hot season from May to August but it gives me a beautiful view.

From my sofa in the living room, I have a great leafy view of the tree through the bay windows. The birds — mynas, bulbuls, kingfishers, magpies, black-naped orioles and olive-backed sunbirds — visit my tree often, flitting from branch to branch and singing away. I get to see them from my sofa.

The squirrels, too, love frolicking in my tree. They love to climb up the tree, and scamper across the branches. I don’t care so much for the squirrels because they keep the birds away. So, I always shoo the squirrels away.

It’s part of my morning ritual, sitting on my sofa and watching nature at play right before my eyes!

When I bought the seedling I was told the tree was the Japanese bushido variety but googling the images I didn’t see any bushido tree that looked like my tree although many of the streets in Subang Jaya are lined by the same type of trees.

My tree grew into a beautiful shady tree. On hot days, I could sit in my living room or take a nap on my sofa without the aircond because the tree kept it relatively cool.

But, I had to consider cutting my tree down because its roots were spreading laterally and came threatening close to the foundations of my house. I, however, dragged my feet about felling the tree.

Even before I thought of cutting down my tree I would off and on look at the birds perched on my tree and wish an eagle would one day alight on it. Last week one did.

It perched on the branch closest to my bay window and looked straight into it. I came up to the window and watched it in awe. Those deep-set eyes, hooked beak, regal carriage, strong legs, freckled breast, brown-white plummage. Wow! It was just four feet away from me. It sensed me and flew away before I could get my camera out!

I don’t know whether it was an eagle or a hawk but it was a treat. Having seen it on my tree, somehow, it felt a little easier to let go of my tree! I got the gardener to come to cut it down but was feeling quite sad about losing my tree.

The evening before the day the gardener came, I went up to my tree, ran my fingers through the leaves on the lowest branches, hugged the trunk and softly whispered: “Sorry, tree but I really need to cut you down!” Somehow, I felt better and ready to let go of it.

The next day the tree was cut down. I let go of it. My garden is dry sand now and I am waiting for my bougainvillaea and jasmine trees to grow. They’ll offer some shade and beauty to my garden.

My tree is gone but I learnt a lesson from it: Sometimes, we need to get rid of a good thing.  My tree was a good thing, a gift of nature but it was too close to my home and a threat to its foundation. The threat was not in the tree but in its close proximity.

Nothing it did was wrong. It needed to send its roots out for its own survival but that was a threat to my house’s existence. Though it gave me so many benefits it could ultimately undermine the foundations of my house, not intentionally but by simply being what it is. A tree whose roots will search for water which could put my house at risk. It had to go.

If I had a house with a bigger garden, I would have planted the tree further away from the house so that neither its branches nor its root system would reach my house. Within the constraints of space in my current garden, that wasn’t an option.

In life, it’s the same. Sometimes, a good thing may have undercurrents that are dangerous or a threat to who we are or our lifestyles. It would be best to get rid of it or keep it at a healthy distance so that both can survive without destroying the other.

Something to think about!




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