You were already here when we came. Who knows for how long? You stood tall and elegant as the first neighbours arrived with their keys, opening the door to their new homes, spirits bright with hope for the future.
A silent witness to our lives.
For 21 years you have stretched your branches up to the skies, a silent witness to our lives. You have watched our children grow – from playground to romantic liaisons, many now with children of their own. You have seen some neighbours depart to far off lands, others succumb to illness and death. No longer able to walk with ease below your shade, now with crutches, then a wheelchair. And finally wheeled out on a stretcher to return no more.
The seasons come and go, but you remain the same. Or so it seemed. From my kitchen window I watched magpies making their nests, flying tirelessly back and forth, back and forth with leaves, sticks and feathers, until all was ready for laying the eggs. And then, barely visible, the chicks with beaks wide open, waiting for the tasty morsels their parents brought them.
The scorching summer heat did not bother you. You grew taller and your leaves were always green, your deep colour a contrast to the brilliant blue skies. A constant companion to the children playing in the sand or splashing in the pool behind you; your roots drawing water and nutrients from the soil beneath.
Autumn winds and rains make you sway, your branches reaching out like fingers trying to touch the windows, but as the wind drops you straighten up and once again your branches are still.
The cold winter nights are brightened by the promise of the Christmas season and the white fairy lights on your lower branches that twinkle and shine in the darkness.
And then, again, another new year and the seasons come and go once more. But this time, something has changed. Old age has crept up unnoticed and you are stooped and bent over. Your roots are too shallow, they say. You have become a danger. And so, you must go.
With sadness we await the day when strangers will come to chop down this beautiful friend who has been a silent witness of our lives for all these years.