More Than a Tree

Living in Vancouver heightens expectations regarding “green spaces”, trees and shrubbery. I’ll never forget a private belly laugh sparked by the visiting American who blurted ” what the hell is with all this shrubbery?”, clearly flabbergasted by carefully manicured hedges lining city streets. We have strict laws regarding trees – none can be cut down without a permit, even if on private property. For every tree removed, five more must be planted. Mild winters and early springs are perfect for blossoming varieties; a great deal of thought goes into placement of cherry, plum, magnolia, and hawthorn. The city places trees for optimum visual effect, regardless of the season. My street has everything from plum and oak to sumac.


If asked to imagine a tree, few people would picture anything like the “fairy tree” in my front yard. These pictures taken on my phone can’t begin to do this tree justice. Barely a week goes by without spotting someone stopping to capture the impossible dimensions and odd tilt of this giant. I’m not a great judge of distance but would guess it was around thirty feet tall. The height is irrelevant; my tree decided decades ago to dismiss convention – why grow tall when you can grow wide and defy gravity?

Little imagination is required to understand why my young children thought of it as the fairy tree. Twisted branches rope around an ancient trunk, leading towards the inner sanctum. Generations of soft foliage cushion nooks and crannies within its cavernous interior. No amount of rain, wind or snow can make their way past its defences. My children are adults now; busy lives leave little time for peeping inside the fairy tree. A few years ago a pair of ducks decided to make it their home; they materialize in spring – I always know when they’ve moved in because at 6 PM every evening they emerge to waddle down the street. At first I pondered – what duck would choose to live in a tree? Then I reminded myself; this is the fairy tree.

20 thoughts on “More Than a Tree

  1. Notes, this blog brought a couple of thoughts to my mind. A lady that was born and raised in Massachusetts upon returning from her first trip to Florida was asked how she liked it. her reply was “well they don’t have any stones down there.”
    And I was down near Yuma Arizona talking to a young lad, told him i was from Michigan and he asked me “Did you ever see a tree?”
    We are indeed products of our environment.

  2. I too live in this beautiful city. Imagine that! I always take visitors on a tour on the city just to see the variety and majesty of the trees that exist here. Typically, they are so amazed . Trees are just one of this city’s many natural beauties. I confess, I’m rather fond of the mountains. Fairy tree? Perfect name, for I can just imagine all the ‘fairies’ tales children create around it .Lovely photo, and it does capture its uniqueness.

  3. This makes me happy. At the beach where I grew up, we had live oaks everywhere. They grew bent and twisted by the ocean wind, which meant their sideways branches grew perfectly for little ones to climb!

  4. Love the five for one policy!

    When my dad was still alive we had a family owned apartment building and when he got his very first riding lawnmower he went around cutting down SMALL trees on the property…. about 5 of them. Over the years every time they would go on vacation I would plant another tree — I eventually replaced his 5 cut trees with 21 replacements — 12 of them I got from our city for free as a bare-root tree-planting program and they were 12′ tall when I got them. He groused and complained about having to go around in circles while cutting the trees but never touched a branch on them. After a few years he even came to love them.
    It’s interesting the strange things ‘technology’ — in that case the advent of the riding lawnmower — convince us are the ‘right’ things to do….
    I wonder what aberrations the technology of the next generation will cause citizens to do?
    Cheers, and great post!
    A retired photographer looks at life from behind an RV steering wheel.
    Life Unscripted

  5. I love this. Thanks for following me and for introducing yourself to me on my blog! I’ve sent you an email, and look forward to following you. Going to enjoy exploring all you’ve written so far…..

    • Wow, never would have guessed that. I believe trees make a city. Vancouver takes the matter seriously – property within the city requires permits to cut down trees, with strict regulations requiring number planted for every one cut down.(I think it’s 5 ) Last summer there was a tour of best trees in the city. People stop and photograph my tree all the time. 🙂

      • That’s a new one.
        We had a neighbour destroy one of the oldest fir trees in the suburb, supposedly planted by the Marist Brothers when they opened the nearby school at the turn of the 20th century
        He claimed it was an insurance risk being so close to his house.
        As a rule I wouldn’t mind ( they are not indigenous after all) but it had stood for so long, was a landmark and the sod did not plant anything in its stead.

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