Story telling from Australia
It’s a rude word in Australia but not in England, where ‘rooted’ has no adverse connotations and roots are simply things connected to trees. When you put down roots you’re firmly established; someone rooted to the spot can’t move. The word also describes my current gardening dilemma.
The Moreton Bay Chestnut that caused so much grief and anguish earlier this year – when sharply pointed objects weighing half a kilo rained down from the skies and a four-month exclusion zone was enforced between the garden gate and the front door – has since settled back into being a simple, magnificent tree. Thoughts of chopping it down, which in this heritage listed suburb quite rightly would involve planning permission, were shelved as too costly, too time consuming and too full of bureaucratic wrangles.
Besides, the massive seedpods that had dented the car bonnet and prompted burly workmen to run for cover, forcing guests to arrive sheltered by umbrellas (a triumph of hope over experience if ever there was one) were no longer a threat. I no longer lay awake at night picturing a crime scene outside the front door, chalk marks outlining the site where the body was discovered, police tape cordoning off the area and detectives clutching Styrofoam cups of coffee as they frowned at the ground, oblivious to the threat from above.
I assumed it was safe to stop worrying about the tree until next year, when the sign would have to go up on the gate again, warning innocent passers-by that deadly missiles could fall from the sky.
Then two things happened that forced a re-think of that do nothing, laissez-faire strategy.
First, my next-door neighbour revealed that the previous owners of this house had planted the tree. ‘Less than ten years ago,’ said Susan. It had grown forty feet in less than ten years? Even if Susan’s memory were no more accurate than mine, and her timing a few years out, that was still a worry.
Then Matt and his offsider arrived to sort out the garage floor, a floor so buckled and broken it looked like someone had piled up a heap of bricks and left them there. It was a job we should have tackled years ago.
‘Looks like there’s a tree root in here,’ said Matt, scratching around in an old drain and pulling out friable tendrils that he snapped and tossed aside.
We thought as much, which is why several weeks ago we bought a tablet and dropped it down the drain. ‘That will dissolve any tree roots and it won’t harm the tree,’ said the helpful assistant in the hardware shop.
‘I’ll dig around, see what I can find,’ said Matt.
What he dug up, several hours later, was a drainpipe with no hope of draining any water, invaded by a tree root so big it looked a like snake had swallowed a donkey. The culprit, of course, was the Moreton Bay Chestnut. Dropping a tablet down the drain to dissolve this root would have been as likely to succeed as shooting a pea at a a charging rhino.
I won’t state the obvious, because I live in Australia now, not England.