Tree didn’t know what all the fuss was about, but she knew she was the cause of it. The saga began the day the man strolled down the street in orange overalls and taped something onto Tree’s trunk. Tree bellowed at the man to stop, but he only added more tape. Twisting and writhing, Tree tried to loosen the thing for the sticky tape irritated her skin. Wind couldn’t help, as she was far away that day. Tree spoke to the birds, but they were too preoccupied as it was nest-building season.
Charlie and Mavis Bower, the elderly couple from the end of the street, paused as they always did to say hello to Tree and finger-trace the carved love heart from years ago. Tree had long forgiven the couple for this misdemeanour, as over time, she’d watched their love blossom. Seeing the taped monstrosity on Tree’s trunk caused Mavis to shriek. The birds stopped their nest-building a moment, cocking their heads sideways. They too, didn’t understand the fuss.
‘This is an atrocity. We’ll go to Council, we’ll protest loudly,’ Charlie said, trying to pick at the stubborn tape, but his aged fingers could not peel back the tape.
Alarmed, Tree tried bending her upper limbs to read the notice, but her arthritic branches lacked flexibility.
Tree pondered the situation – change was about to happen, something significant, something scary concerning her, but what? In the past, she’d tolerated the indignity of her upper branches being trimmed gracefully. This time, Tree had a spooky premonition that her life was in danger.
Later, children heading home from school scuffed their shoes through the leaves gathered at Tree’s base but did not look up and read the notice. Trudy Green, the last child to come abreast with Tree, did so. Trudy read the poster as she prepared to snuggle into Tree’s bough for her afternoon read. Her eyes scrunched tight, Trudy looked closer. She ripped the tape from the notice and crumpled it into a tight ball.
The next day, Overall man returned with another man who wore a suit.
‘I knew some greenie would tamper with the notice, but I came prepared,’ said Overall and out came his roll of tape and another poster.
Suit knelt and measured Tree’s girth. He gazed into her leafy canopy and scribbled figures on a clipboard.
Saturday was a miserable, drizzly day. Still, the crowds gathered around Tree, some carrying placards, others, picnic baskets and blankets. Many chanted and sang. Passing vehicles tooted their support. A group of children linked hands and danced around and around Tree until they collapsed with dizziness. The merriment of the crowd made Tree swoon with happiness. All this fuss for her, but why?
Charlie Bower stood in front of Tree, raised his arms, and asked for quiet. ‘My friends, good news. We will not be hearing any screeching chainsaws. In my research of city records, I uncovered a forgotten covenant that protects our beloved tree. She’ll be with us forever.’