Murder in the suburbs

YourLifeChoices’ 91-year-old columnist Peter Leith has witnessed a ‘murder’ – one that has become increasingly common as more and more dwellings are squeezed into our suburbs.

At 7am I woke to the sound of a chainsaw.

We live at the corner of a court and a neighbour living at the bottom of the court was having a tree cut down.

The three-bedroom house, owned and occupied by a middle-aged couple, sits on the right-hand side of the block. The driveway at the left runs around the back to their garage. It passes in front of the one bedroom ‘granny unit’ they have built at the back of the block and which they rent to singles or young couples.

The tree being removed is a thriving, 20m gum that is growing beside the garage of the granny unit and shades their back garden and garage.

Some of the magpies we feed several times a day must have been nesting there as they fly off in that direction with a beak-full of mince meat.

By 8am, all the lateral branches have been lopped off leaving just a trunk.

The chainsaws then start to lop off sections of the trunk, starting from the top. We can hear the thuds as each chunk hits the ground. 

By 9am, the chainsaws have stopped and, after a short interval – morning tea perhaps – the ‘muncher’ starts up.

It is quite noisy and the sounds it emits varies depending on whether it is chewing up leafy foliage and small branches or bigger branches. When discs from the main trunk are fed into its insatiable mouth it positively roars at the effort necessary to chew them to shreds.

By 10am, the job is done. The truck and muncher-trailer move off. The gum tree is now a trailer full of mulch and sawdust.

The tree was cut down to provide more off-street parking for the people who live there.

I have just re-read the poem Trees by Joyce Kilmer and find that my eyes are a bit watery.

Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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Written by Peter Leith


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