We have a grapefruit tree in our backyard that is ancient and diseased and bears ugly fruit and is under constant threat of the chainsaw.
Our three children climb up into the tree’s canopy and hide, then swing off its branches onto the grass below, and they find new climbing routes up its gangly limbs.
When I was a kid, I recall being angry with my Dad for not consulting me about changes to our backyard. When I was seven, living in Hamiltion, our macrocarpa hedge had grown a limb that extended over the grass in a gesture that asked us to a game of see-saw. It wasn’t so much a tree as a character in our games, morphing from a horse to an aeroplane back to a see-saw. One day Dad gave it the chop and I protested, then moped.
A few years later we had moved to Auckland and our house had a big section with a long curved gravel drive running through it. One day the concrete trucks arrived, and there was no satisfying crunch underfoot, or gravelly sound underwheel. It felt like our sanctuary had been infiltrated by the busy road at the top of the drive. The city had come to our house.