Another summer’s day in late spring, and I took the opportunity to wander some of the nicer streets of the borough. Our own reduced plane trees are now balls of green, and the sun is hot enough to appreciate the shade they offer. The first application was a request to re-reduce two limes that were done last year. Too soon friends! The second was an application to fell three trees with a claim they were damaging the wall. Since both trees and wall were both well over a hundred years old and neither had fallen over, it was difficult to see why their coexistence had now become so difficult. The third was an application to savage two limes – the manager of the property explained to me that they had to clean up too many leaves every autumn.
On days like this I feel like an arbitrator between the present and the future. All of these trees will still be there when the applicants are gone to another place (who knows if it will be a better place, if they keep putting in applications like this…). I feel it’s my job to represent the future residents as well as the present ones. To some extent I feel I should represent the trees too, though since they don’t vote this is probably not technically part of my remit. If trees could vote, we would have different governments than we do I think. Come to think of it, future voters are also not represented in our political system. It would be nice if they were – perhaps we’d destroy our planet at a less ferocious rate.
But when it comes to trees you have to take the long view, so I explain it to myself as protecting future residents. I suppose I’ll never get thanks for this – I certainly don’t get much from current residents – but taking a longer view is partly what a public service job is about. I’m just glad we’re not paid in thanks. The trees won’t thank me either, but that’s no different from having children. Lots of grief, no thanks, but it has pleasures of its own.