For the local bird populace of the area it would have been a most disconcerting Thursday.

I had a vision of two starlings, a bloke and his newly-chosen missus, perched upon the nearby fence as the late evening sun glowed brighter than it had a month ago ... for spring was edging ever so much closer.

And branching foundations would soon be required for their new abode.

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I could see them sitting there, small clusters of twigs under their wings, taking in the sight of three chaps felling three trees down the back of the section.

And one of them being the tree they figured could make a fine spot for their cottage.

The male starling would have glanced at Mrs Starling and simply said "we're stuffed."

But hey, there's plenty of trees out there ... except in Havelock North where they appear to be coming down on a regular basis.

So they'll find something.

We all find things after big trees come down.

I found which muscle and ligament strips were most prone to cramp and a burning-like pain which accompanied every step taken within an hour of splitting the great slabs the fine felling chaps we called in had sliced up and left nicely piled.

It's strange.


For the first 20 minutes of splitting you can go at it like some gnarled, tough and gritty old Kauri feller at the turn of the century.

But when you put the axe down and start standing upright for more than 17 seconds you become the gnarled, tough and gritty old Kauri feller at the turn of the century who failed to hear the cry of "timber" and had a few tonnes of potentially fine furniture settle upon him.

The old bod' lets you know you are no longer going on 34 years of age.

"Add another 30," it whispers cynically.

I think strange things at times ("oh really?" I hear you muse).

For, as I chopped the great slabs, I occasionally came across knots and things and wondered if they had been the start of branches which for some reason or other had never got under way.

They all had bark stories to tell.

And after splitting one. I unearthed a remarkable nest of little wormy white creatures which had obviously set up house in there.

I immediately placed the pieces back together, bound one of those stretchy rubber bungee chord things around it and placed it down by the back fence in the damp grass.

I did.

I'm not kidding.

No way I was going to ruin their little neighbourhood and their wormy little lives.

They probably had little wormy schools in there too (okay, we'll leave it there yeah?)

I was a little sad to see the great, and clearly aged, trees come down but they had to for they had spread too far and too wide and too high and every autumn shed about a tonne of leaves ... everywhere.

And they took away late afternoon sun for the folk down the back, and the silver birch, especially, liked to send flotsam and jetsam everywhere.

They had outworn their welcome.

Russell, echoing his business, was down to earth about it.

It was probably more than 50 years old and would have a root system pretty well as widespread under us as it was high ... and it was high.

They had their time and simply had to go, and hey, we're good for firewood next year so they'll be fondly remembered on the August nights of 2019.

It was a different situation at our previous house, which was a modest cottage-like abode upon pretty close to a quarter acre section, and there were two mighty and majestic walnut trees.

They provided the foundation for the kids' tree hut as well as enough walnuts for us and the neighbours on the three other sides.

And there was usually enough of them to take off to the fruit and veg' wholesale market when it was in Munroe St and pay half the annual rates bill with the resulting sale.

They were very old trees old Wall and Nutty but when we sold up and moved off they were felled within the week ... to make way for a scouring and scraping of the grass and garden and paths to make room for a couple of units the buyer decided to build.

I remember passing and seeing one had come down and that work had clearly got under way on turning its great chum into a memory.

That was grim because, unlike our latest removals, they were not a nuisance.

Now there's an idea ... plant a couple of walnut trees so when I turn 143 we'll have our very own nuts to spread on my birthday cake.