We used to have a couple of stately two hundred year old chestnut trees in the park adjoining our house. Now we only have one.
What neither we nor the council had realised was that a fungus infection had got into the roots of one of these trees, causing such rot that, basically, this tree was balanced so precariously that one good push by a toddler would have knocked it down.
That good push was more than adequately supplied by last Saturday's storm.
It's pretty upsetting that such a lovely ornament to our neighbourhood should be lost.
But this isn't about losing the tree.
The tree fell down, right across the main road into our town and onto a car with five people in, at 3.55pm. By 4.05pm two ambulances had arrived, as had a community policeman, my husband and another neighbour. While the ambulance crew attended to the people in the car (thankfully, minor injuries only), everyone else started organising the traffic.
Then other neighbours started arriving with their gardening tools.
Our town councillor turned up, and was shortly joined by another – who was still wearing his rosette. Someone else made a call to a mate who owned a chainsaw.
Before long we actually had to turn away offers of further help. We got the kids sweeping up debris, while I took on the tea-making duty.
We had that fallen giant cleared and the road open again by 5.30pm.
There was still work for the council, as a trunk with a five foot diameter is a bit beyond a domestic chainsaw, but we were pretty proud of ourselves. We hadn't just stood back and waited for the "authorities" to sort it out: we'd sorted it out ourselves without waiting for permission. We had boosted the community spirit, met a few more neighbours and yes - it felt good.
It's a great antidote to feeling powerless, getting a few people together to just do something. If you're like me, you often worry about whether you are actually allowed to do it and so end up hesitant, even frozen; afraid to make a difference. But as somebody once told me (with a wink) it's much easier to get forgiveness than permission.
So what are we waiting for? Let's just do it.
A Moodscope user.