The Tree, 2017
photo and text
This tree is special to my family. We have watched it grow over 45 years from a small tree to one of great size. We have watched many trees grow over that time but this one has outpaced them all. In its branches generations of birds have hatched, flown and returned. Some have died and I find their bones beneath its branches.
On the farm most trees grow very slowly. There is a sandy, granite soil with thick, heavy heartbreaking clay just below the sandy layer. In the dry the clay is impenetrable. In times of excessive rain, springs break out all over the valley and the clay & soil become waterlogged. This can sometimes drown mature trees if the wet weather persists.
Our winters are very cold in this valley. Spring growth gets frosted causing flowers and fruit to be a month behind those that grow above the frost line.
Why has this tree defied the odds by becoming so large? We think it is fed by a continuous underground spring.
In the fork of the tree is a bird sown fig slowly pushing its roots down from high. It will be a long time before the fig’s embrace covers this magnificent eucalypt, but when and if it does this tree will have nurtured generations of creatures. I wont see it curtained in fig roots, but maybe my Children’s children will.
My Children call it the Swinging Tree as they have ridden on its lowest branch since babyhood.
Nearby a small gathering of its own children keep this tree company.
Jill Sampson, 2017