I love trees, & am always amazed when people dont plant them, or cut them down. Apart from the necessity of taking down dangerous trees, of course.
Or Privet, which is just a menace.
Some of my earliest memories involve trees. When I was born, my father was in Italy, part of the NZ soldiers sent for the war effort.
A favourite Aunt was his younger sister, & she used to collect me from my grandmother's house, & take me on her horse, up to visit my other grandmother. They lived on a farm on a hill, in wild & rugged bushy country in a remote area, the 'outback' of New Zealand. I can remember asking my young Aunt the names of all the native trees on the way, & she would patiently teach me their names. New Zealand bush is very unique, & the trees were very beautiful to my young eyes- they still appear that way to me.
When I was about 3, the war was over, & my father had returned. We lived in an old farmhouse, on a farm where my father worked. There were huge old, ugly, pine trees at the back of the house, & they were dark & forboding looking. I was slightly frightened of them, & they harboured lots of Mynah birds, whose screeching nearly drove my mother mad.
The main farmhouse was quite close to ours, & I was allowed to go to play with the owner's son quite often. He was a large boy, I think he must have been older than me, & was somewhat rough. His mother, Mrs B, was lovely, & she used to let me play with his older sister's dolls, which were kept in a loft. The older sister was away at boarding school, so she was rarely home, & I cant remember her at all.
Mrs B had planted a beautiful 'Avenue' of trees she loved, & there was a huge old Magnolia, that used to flower so beautifully, plus a lot of Rhododendrons, which were also beautiful. I dont remember all the other types of trees but I can remember walking through that avenue holding Mrs B's hand, & feeling so happy.
My father had returned a 'changed man' as so many soldiers did, & the marriage of my parents failed, after the birth of my brother. (Who makes us laugh, as he tells everyone he wasnt a mistake, he was a genuine attempt at saving a marriage!)
Our mother took us, & moved back to live with her parents. At that time they were living in an old homestead on another farm, & there was an old orchard near the house. It was filled with old apple trees, & wonderful plums of all sorts. There were several Datura trees there, & I used to play with the fallen flowers. I was always fascinated with them, though my mother hated them, & hated the heavy scent they have. Now I know a little about them, I would never touch them.
Once I started school, there was a huge old Oak tree, that was a focal point of the playground. Our school photos were usually posed under that old Oak, & it provided shade in the heat of summer. There was another old huge tree, but it had horrible smelling flowers, & the hated school milk used to be placed under the tree. It would sit in the heat, & always made me vomit. I had a note to exempt me from having to have it! I always associate the smell of Privet with the flowers on that tree, & the rotting milk.
Once we got into the 'Standards' classes, we were allowed to play on the lower 'flats' as they were called. They were large areas levelled out, & grassed & used for football mostly. Later swimming baths were built down on one of the flats, & we learnt to swim in those.
These flats were surrounded by thick Lawsoniana trees, which had been planted in double rows, & were called the Air Raid Shelters. They were dense & dark, & when we were in the 'Primmers' they were a forbidden area. Of course once we got into the 'Standards', we would sneak down into the Air Raid Shelters, & the boys would sneak tobacco from their father's stash, & they would roll disgusting, deformed, cigarettes, & smoke them down among the dark trees.
There was a farm adjoining the Air Raid Shelters, & the old man who owned it used to peer through the trees, & we always believed he was 'spying' on us. His name was Bishoprick, so you can imagine the names he used to be called!
The Headmaster's house was next to old Bishoprick's place, & it bordered the bike sheds. Which were also the scene of smoking capers by the boys. I dont remember any of the girls smoking in those days, though perhaps they did.
One daring lad stole his father's pipe, & brought it to school, & braggingly smoked it, to everyone's admiration or horror. He didnt come to school for several days after that, & his brother told us it was due to the hiding he had recieved from their father. I dont know if it was true, but it could have been.
There was a lovely area in the front of the main school buildings, with thick hedges of trimmed Lawsoniana, & Camelia trees in the centre. I regret not going back to see the old school, on my recent trip back. My brother tells me he thinks the old Oak is gone now. And I would suppose the old Air Raid Shelters are also long gone. They were never very attractive, but they were fun to hide in, or handy to meet with the current 'crush'.
I always feel sad to see rented houses, with no trees. I know renters are not going to spend money on a plant they will never see grow much, but I wish owners would plant them.
I think part of the reason I love living here, is the fact we are high, & can look out on trees. And we have some nice ones of our own.