It happened early one morning, weeks ago now. But the angst lingers.
I had chosen not to go on my morning walk and was still in my pyjamas when a truck pulled up in the back lane behind my courtyard; male voices wafted over the garden wall. The sound of a chainsaw tearing into wood focused my attention in a laser second. The violent convulsing of the Tuckeroo tree (Cupaniopsis anacardioides) confirmed my worst fears, shaking me from stunned torpor.
Someone was attacking my tree!
Now, this happened at the time I was trying to overcome my fear of spiders; when I was attempting to live in harmony with the spider strung in a web across my path – yes, the very same path to the back gate. I had been reminding myself each morning to duck under the web to avoid disturbing her, but more honestly, because I didn’t fancy her in my hair.
It’s interesting what the fight or flight response can do to one’s memory. I completely forgot about my resident spider and self-imposed spider therapy as I flew out the door, up the path, colliding with the web but intent on getting to the tree-assaulter before too much damage was inflicted. I was confronted with a group of work men, eyes wide, recoiling in the face of my onslaught, at this (splendid) vision of a madwoman screaming ‘Stop! You’re ruining my tree!’
But it was too late. The boughs which had so offended them, had been chopped off. No amount of (unreasonable) reasoning on their behalf – overhanging boughs interrupting safe passage of vehicles along the lane – could console me. There I stood, wild, web-tangled hair in disarray, eyes brimming with despair, speechless, with brain in neutral.
Then I remembered the spider.
My reaction must have confirmed me as a madwoman. Frantic gyrations and hair grabbing were accompanied by desperate squeaking of ‘get it out!’
The men stared in wonder as I beat a hurried retreat, trying to salvage some self respect, to dive straight into the shower. Any noble thoughts toward the spider were forgotten. I wanted it gone.
All this fuss over a few branches you might ask? Well, I’ve been having the Tuckeroo tree carefully shaped by an aborist, someone who actually knows about tree surgery. The tree sheltered a shade-loving orchid collection beneath its canopy. Now the orchids were exposed to the full sun and the tree itself was no longer ‘tree-shaped’.
But once the adrenaline drained and calm was restored, I realised there were positives to be found in the whole sorry episode.
We are well into Autumn here in the Southern Hemisphere, so the sun is lower and not as fierce. The tree is recovering. There will be ample new growth to protect the orchids next summer. And, I will keep the temptation to trim overhanging boughs by chainsaw-wielding tree-bother-ers to a minimum. I will prune them myself.
Sometimes, even when events seem most dire, good outcomes can be found. Sometimes, we must prune ruthlessly in order to encourage new, stronger growth. Or someone else will do it for us.
The tree’s wounds are healing. The scars will remain. But this is where new growth springs from. It’s not the same tree; the shorter more prolific branch-lets are stronger for the experience. Staying the same is not an option.
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
― Anaïs Nin
**No spider was hurt in this exercise. She appeared, quite unperturbed, the next day in a brand new web. Yes. Across the same path.