Friday, 25 May 2012

scarlet stars

when we first came to live in South Australia
in the early 1970s
[yes, children, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth
and your mother was dodging lava puddles and errant meteors]
there was barely a tree to be found on the main street of Stirling
there was one brave oak
that marked the position of the local hamburger joint
[now a jewellery store]
and the deli next door
which some ambitious soul designated as the "Oak Tree Plaza"

Mount Barker Road was an expanse of bitumen
wide enough for a bullock cart to be turned in
[even though the chances of a bullock cart struggling up the hills from the plains were by now pretty slim]

so my Pa
who in those days was quite a bright chap
and coined phrases such as
"the driest state on the driest continent"
-  a snappy descriptor still applied to South Australia -
hit upon the notion of planting a few trees

due permissions were gathered
not without protest from the traders of the time who argued that it would take away parking spaces, people would be killed by running into [the trees], falling limbs would crush cars etc etc
Liquidambars were selected, not only for their glorious autumn colour but also as a fire safety measure...eucalypts are lovely trees but rather prone to explosive combustion and in the likely event the Mount Lofty Ranges are again consumed by fire 
having less flammable trees in the main street is probably a good thing

this winter it will be 40 years since we mucked in
with other hardy souls in the community
and helped plant some fifty trees
that now provide welcome shade in summer
scatter scarlet stars on the pavements in the fall
and whose branches trace delicate drawings in the mists
of our most chillsome season

might be time to gather a few leaves
and make a commemorative bundle
- i'll let you know how that goes


  1. i love that i'm on your yesterday, and you're on my tomorrow, you're in your winter looking at clashing blue n organge, and i'm in my springsummer looking at blue n green. joys of the web

    1. almost as good as gazing into a crystal ball

    2. Four Liquidambars, or Sweet Gums here in Illinois. I too am in amazement at the difference in climate/seasons. It is VERY green around here and HOT.
      Wonderful post!

  2. What a lovely legacy and one that will be soon embedded in a piece of fine cloth.

    1. fingers crossed the embedding works to plan...! as we know, the Dogs Above do like to have their fun. but i'll put the image up, whichever way it turns out

  3. Wow! It must make you feel good to know you were a part of this :-)

  4. i see that spirit of building a community from scratch was started in you at a young age ;) how cool!

  5. What a forward-thinking man! What a lovely thing he did for the local community... the images are striking - that colour!

  6. such a nice thing to hold on to, a tree...

  7. trees touch our roots. these have certainly touched yours.

  8. A good choice, sweetgums, with their purply-red leaves in the fall. My favorite tree here in Kentucky, I had no idea it grew in Australia. Must be lovely to look up and know you had a hand in that.

  9. Its JOY to have a home, a base, a belonging spot, outside your own heart that is....

  10. A beautiful legacy... the planting of trees. Great to see them grow and become enormous!
    I'm watching several white birches that I didn't cut when they wandered into my garden... each year, little by little, inch by inch, they mark time and grow rings inside.

  11. ahhhhh lurve lurve (and I'm feeling once again a weird little moment of serendipity..... and thinking of trees I planted in my little town some 35 years ago..... isn't lovely to see them all grown up and putting their pretty frocks on!)

  12. This has been a lovely visit to your sweet post...the beautiful tree and her leaves surround my cabin in the woods but our seasons are opposite of yours. Bessings and Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

  13. hello India, you're a good story teller, picking up the words as the natural wonders you gather. It's great to read your automnal post as a sweet spring morning is rising up in France. Birds are singing,here and there, as long as trees shelter them.

  14. Those trees are glorious!!

    I don't think I fully understood the value of planting trees till I, myself, started to grow old. Although I wish this wasn't so, that is the truth of it. So your story, India, triggers a hitch in my do all similar stories...for I never understood the value of this endeavor until very, very late. Too late, if ever I wanted to see a grown tree that I had been a part of nurturing.

    Oh, this is fine. Very, very FINE indeed...that you can gather, and commemorate, and pay homage to your father's vision and to those blessed trees.

    1. i always liked the idea of Johnny Appleseed...and it's never to late to tuck an acorn in somewhere :-)

  15. This is such a beautiful, precious story. Many thanks to you and your clever Pa.

  16. oh, so it was your ancestors responsible for the color explosion! My best friends father still lives there and my brother, nearby

    Well done, Pa!

  17. I'm looking out at an enormous Liquidambar as I type. Only one in our neighbours garden and so beautiful in it's Autumn foliage. Seeing a whole avenue of Liquidambars planted by your Pa must be very uplifting.

  18. What a lovely legacy to leave. I think I need to go plant some trees.