A tragedy befell our garden this week of Edwardian proportions.

On Tuesday night, around nine o’clock, a storm sprang out of nowhere. It only lasted a few hours and yet, it did untold damage across our region. Trees fell down on people’s houses, on cars and across roads. Winds gusted 100 -160 kilometres an hour and in some places got up to 210 kilometres. A four story building under construction caved in, and there were power outs in many areas, leaving people without heating on the coldest night of the year.

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I went to bed around 9.30 on Tuesday night, afraid of the big gusts of wind roaring around the house. About half an hour later, I was woken by a loud, insistent banging on the door. My neighbour, Pete, stood on the doorstep in an oil slicker, holding a powerful torch, with the wind and rain howling behind him.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Yes, why?”

“Your big tree’s fallen down.”

My heart sank. No. Not that tree.

The Liquid Amber

Not the tree my parents planted in 1962 when they first moved in. The tree my brother-in-law dubbed ‘The Jewel of the Garden’ for its radiant magnificence. The tree whose dramatic changing hues, shedding of leaves and regaining of resplendent green shoots has heralded the turning of the seasons throughout my life. The tree I went and hugged for a few days in a row after dad died, and sang to. No. Not that tree.

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I remember when dad came back to visit the old homestead, a few years ago. He walked out into the backyard to admire the liquid amber he’d planted fifty years before. His head tilted, and he marvelled, “It’s grown so big.”

No.

Not that tree.

I couldn’t bear to go and look at it that evening and, besides, it was too wild outside. I waited until the next morning. Then, I went out into the garden, and I couldn’t believe my eyes.

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Most of the main column was gone. My nephew, who lives in the sleep out, said he could hear branches cracking in the storm. He’d gone outside to get a look and could see the big gusts of wind whipping the branches around. He went back to bed and threw a mattress over himself when he heard another loud crack, then a resounding thud when the top half fell.

Miraculously, it had crashed into Pete’s backyard, missing everything except for his clothesline.

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I was relieved to see the remaining trunk was still firmly planted in the ground and that many of the branches still seemed strong.

The tree removal guy says he hopes to salvage what’s left. He can trim the branches and trunk. The tree will be half the size, but the prognosis is that it might survive to be hugged another day.

Boy, I hope so.

I don’t care to lose too many more family members at the moment.

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The theme of loss and the reality of it in our daily lives is difficult.

At the end of the middle grade novel I’m working on, The Last Tree, when the hero, Aden misses his elderly mentor, Geo, he asks himself, ‘Is this what it’s like to grow up, there’s more pain and losing people?’

I think that’s one of those storms we all have to go through, when we start to mature, in becoming aware of our mortality and that our parents aren’t going to live forever. There are moments of understanding that one day we’ll have to find our way through this world alone, and one day, we’ll take the place of our parents as the elders in our own families.

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The elderly or grandparent character in a story always represents our mortality, by the nature of their advanced age, they represent impermanence.

I love to write the grandparents and always include them in my fiction. The truth is, that half the Jewel of the Garden must be taken away, that grandparents will die some day, and that our beloved parents will one day do the same, and so will we. But, the student, the child, the garden will carry on. The new growth will replace the old tree. And the next generation will blossom and thrive and have their season in the sun. That is the flow of life, and there is comfort in that knowledge and wisdom in acceptance.

Have you ever weathered a major storm or lost a tree you loved? What did you do? What nugget of wisdom did you gain from the experience?

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(Dad’s grandson and great-granddaughter)

Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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If we know how to appreciate these beautiful things, we will not have to search for anything else. Peace is available in every moment, in every breath, in every step. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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Comments
  1. davidprosser says:

    I’m sorry about all the damage to your tree Yvette but I’m oh so glad it’s not an occasion for more condolences. Keep well.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Yes, me too, David. I’m not sure how many metres high it was but probably somewhere in the region of twenty five or more? There were two people sleeping in the neighbour’s house, my nephew in the sleepout and the two boys and I in our house, and the tree somehow managed to miss all of us, even sparing the birds in the aviary. Amazing blessings. ((( hugs ))) xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad your tree survived despite being damaged. I understand now the importance of Geo in The Last Tree. It’s a wonderful theme.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    Wow, what a crazy, scary storm! I hope the tree survives and thrives and grows even stronger. How wonderful that it didn’t damage any people or buildings. This is such a beautifully written post, Yvette, so full of wisdom and reflections on life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Thanks, my friend. It was terrifying. And even though it’s now five days later, there are still 9000 homes without electricity and unlikely to be hooked up again until next week. It was major. At least there were no deaths, as far as I know.
      The tree is still a mess at this stage as the neighbours and I have yet to figure out the best course of action. But hopefully there will be resolution soon and the tree guy can visit to do his magic! 🙂

      Like

  4. That’s beautiful Yvette. So glad Amber survived. Maybe, like bones, she’ll grow back stronger. I had my service line ripped from the house and several branches down. Quite scary when you’re alone in a storm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Thanks, Claire! Yes, I was freaking out a bit, I will admit. With each gust of wind that seemed to be stronger than the last, it had the old heart going pitter-pat. We survived, thank goodness!

      Like

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