It’s strange how simply witnessing the events of a day can effectively teach you so much about gratitude.
At about 3pm on the 8th of June, the residents of Notting Hill’s Colville Square and the surrounding streets heard a puzzling crash that forced the curious side of their nature to react.
Running out into the street I thought – blood, broken bones, tears and panic but as a believer in the shaping of one’s own reality I stopped for a brief moment and thought, everybody is fine, zero injuries and no grief. Opening my front door my belief turned into a knowing. I would love to say it was solely my sense of human concern, and it was but only an uneven proportion, because at the rim dunking, top shelf reaching, height of 6 ft 3, I become a morsel of a man at the site of blood. Yes, I believe blood belongs inside the body not out and although I haven’t fainted at the sight of it yet I often weigh the possibility.
Everybody just stood there not quite knowing if the miracle they had just witnessed had truly happened. No blood, no screaming, no urgency to help pull anybody from beneath the fallen tree. No chainsaw on site or visible human act that may have caused this to happen. The considerate tree seemed to first check that nobody was in its path before it made its great departure from the surrounding family of trees that housed the feathered early morning choir of Colville Square.
After calling 999 and asking for the fire brigade, which seemed to be the logical choice of the three, I was told that it was not their business and I should call the council. I got off the phone confused and even more anxious. I guess there was a part of me that wanted to be the one to call for help, as it was my tree. I mean only two hours ago I was discussing this very tree as being a worthy exchange for sacrificing the beautiful park view that we so loved outside of the old flat. I guess its sudden split made me the only injured person and recognising the tree had other plans (besides me) I took it personally. Since there was nobody else injured my second 999 choice was the police and they said ‘No Problem’ and got there within five minutes, along with the fire brigade.
Almost stranger than the tree falling out of the blue,on a warm summers day, was the fact that the tree had as many choices as to which direction to surrender to gravity as myself or any other earthly object, yet it seemed to be considerate of the sweet 3-year-olds out playing in the nursery playground just six feet away, the families playing in the park fifteen feet away and even the building across the street. It conveniently fell almost along the street with even the illusion of time being a consideration avoiding my young unsuspecting nephew’s visit by 5 minutes exactly. Three cars were injured and one
Three cars were injured and one totalled along with a lamppost. Observing the neighbours gathering and the employment of too many phone cameras two thoughts came to mind; what a beautiful act of mercy on the part of the Tree and its position and timing, I mean if this were a movie like the Exorcist or the Omen there would have been a priest sacrificed beneath it and the other thought was, is this what it takes to get to know your neighbors? This brought me back to the London riots, that was the last time I really talked to my neighbours without prompting any unwarranted suspicion. The street was filled with talk of insurance and blame and jokes were allowed to fly around the scene due to the lack of human injury while community support officers and police helped to control the environment with tape. In each person’s mind was a warm relief and a satisfaction as the sense of adventure needed in a normally armchair type voyage spilled out from the telly into the streets, it kind of pacified the needs of the community without the need for blood as props.
The woman who owned the car that received the major blow stood outside smoking a cigarette thinking about her insurance claim. When I asked her what car she would consider next she replied “A tank”.
The fact that she and I had the last laugh and yet probably the worst blow from this day made our evening and my weekend a very joyful one, maybe because we were all human again and whenever the universe displays a serendipitous knowledge we can do nothing but humbly seek out the message in all this. For me, it was gratitude for life knowing how ugly things could have turned out and how little we have done to interact with the beautiful lives on our street.
Here’s all that remains of a tree named Unity
Rest in Peace