I never thought a tree would become my mortal enemy, but here we are. I hate a tree. If you can call it a tree. I prefer to think of it as a manifestation of pure evil. It’s a horrible, thorny, tangled bush. It’s dark and gloomy and makes you afraid to get too close, for fear of spiders or rats or Helena Bonham Carter lurking there.
I don’t know what kind of tree it is. I’m not a gardening kind of guy. I hate that stuff. I’ve hated gardening ever since my parents used de-weeding the backyard as punishment for childish indiscretions. I vowed never to garden again, but this monstrosity left me no choice. It was twice the height of the house. It’s limbs had spilled into the neighbours’ yards on two sides, and it had completely overgrown the garden shed, entombing my belongings inside.
I knew I had to kill the tree.
I grabbed the only tools on hand: a rusty pruning saw and a blunt hand axe left by the previous tenants. I went at it, hacking away at branch after branch. “You’re mad Matt!” they all said. “You can’t take on that thing with hand tools! It’ll take forever!” They didn’t understand. This was personal. I had to sweat it out and test my strength and resolve against the tree, mano e planto.
My plans changed when I learned that the green waste collection for my suburb was coming up on the 8th of July. Time was against me. I needed to weaponise. I obtained a chainsaw from an old school friend and set to work with a cocky swagger. This would be easy, I thought. Nothing could stop me now.
I cut through the smaller branches, severing limb after limb. Soon I had cut everything within reach, but the base of the tree blocked my access to the mass of vegetation on the far side. I tried to cut through it, but this caused the chain to jump loose from the saw. I struggled on pausing to clear the grit and put the chainsaw’s teeth back in every 10 minutes or so until I couldn’t go on. It was exhausting.
I put down the chainsaw and reached into the innards of the tree. The branches I had severed were firmly wedged within the tangled mass. I heaved with all my might to pull them free, but the more branches I removed, the more sprang forth. The gnarled, hideous, Medusan beast closed in around me. Thorns ripped through my gloves. With skin now exposed, the tree assaulted me. Its poisoned thorns pierced me in weak points. The knuckles. The webbing between fingers. The back of knees, the edge of finger nails. At the end of the day I was bloody, battered and bruised.
Though severely reduced in size, the tree still stood, mocking me with its invulnerability. I’d won the battle, but not the war.
I gazed wearily at the destruction around me. The ruins of the tree lay sprawled around in mangled piles. The yard had transformed into a graveyard of twisted branches and dead leaves. It would be an arduous task indeed to cut the waste into manageable chunks, clear it up and move it to the verge for collection.
But that was a job for another weekend.