When a tree comes to the end of it's life out there in a forest where there is nobody about to hear it fall, it does so without a sound according to some philosophers. Others maintain that even if there is no one standing in the forest waiting patiently for the tree to fall it will still make lots of noise when it does. Who cares? The tree doesn't, it's just a tree. Usually out in the forest trees dies slowly, they get old and a branch falls of and then an other and then a few more. The tree ends up with gashes in the truck and water gets in and the poor tree slowly rots from the inside out. All this can take years and the only ones who have any interest in this process are younger trees hanging around waiting for enough space to grow up in. Plus the local insects that make a living on rotting wood. Or maybe a tree will get struck by lightening and depart from life in a loud bank accompanied by lots of heat. Or an other tree will suffer the millions of volt of electricity sent down from the heavens and set the forest on fire and our poor tree will be consumed by the flames. Or our brave hero who has been growing tall and straight for a couple of hundred years will live in the Amazon Rain Forest and meet it's end, more and more often these days, like so many of it's colleagues, under the deadly assault of a chain saw.
Now a tree living in an urban environment is almost certain to face the chain saw style end. Councils everywhere can not afford to have trees dropping rotting branches on passers by. You could lose too many council tax payers like that given the number of trees planted in urban areas.
One of the problems round here is that Torquay is basically a town that change from a few hovels round the harbour to a fashionable watering hole in the mid to late 19 century. And one thing Victorians loved to do was plant trees all over the place. This trend continued through the Edwardian period and still continues today. So its not surprising some of these trees are getting on in years and are reaching the stage of dropping branches on to the heads of passers by. The council sensibly have a quick look at all it's trees to see if action is needed to prevent this happening. Given the "I'm going to sue for every penny I can get" culture we have imported from America you can't blame them.
A couple of days ago a large Holm Oak in the Princess Gardens near the theatre developed a large crack, nice friendly tree this, giving the council a warning it was in dropping branch mode. So down it came but not without some controversy. The council here have a history of doing things in a way that would baffle most people. I mean we live here and we have to put up with it but it doesn't mean we like the way our town is run. Headless chickens, sometimes vindictive headless chickens, or even single-minded headless chickens spring, to mind. So when the Herald Express ran the story about the tree coming down there were about 30 comments downloaded suggesting an ulterior motive for cutting the tree down. Sorry the tree was in a sadly dangerous state. A two foot long crack had opened up and a branch weighing about 5 tonnes was likely to end up crashing on to a nearby shelter. A shelter used mostly by visitors to our fair town. If the council hadn't cut the tree down I can imagine the headlines in the Walsall Gazette or the Rotherham Recorder, " 20 Tourists Killed When Tree Falls" "Torbay Council didn't do anything for fear of upsetting locals."
So one this occasion the council have got it right, I wish they would get into the habit of getting things right.
PS Oh yes. Nearly forgot. The person, a professional protestor by the sound of him, who went down to Princess Gardens yesterday and called one of the guys cutting the tree down a Nazi didn't do his cause any good either.