9 July 2014

Taking stock...

2014-06-25 13.20.32
2014-07-01 15.13.23

Making : Time for creativity. Yay!
Cooking : Lots of foods that owlets love to help cook and eat. They're always so hungry!
Drinking : Water. Lots of it. Consciously. Everyday. I'm shocked too.
Reading: Favourite magazines the latest Taproot and Earth Garden are top of the pile.
Wanting: To get my ferments going again. I've missed them! 
Looking: forward to eating some oyster and shiitake mushrooms growing in my kitchen right now.

2014-07-05 10.28.29

Playing: Farms with Tiny. I've been luring her to play with surprise playscapes. It's fun.
Deciding: What we'll do for Little Owlet's birthday. 
Wishing: The hours when the Owlets are in bed would go a tiny bit slower. 
Enjoying: Pip's Inspiration Information course. It's quite lovely and lots of fun.
Waiting: For my phone contract to run out. Tiny took a bath with mine and now the camera and punctuation don't work. I miss quick photos and exclamation marks. 
Liking: Slowing down and being present with the owlets. Creating alongside them. Thanks winter.


Loving: Sunny Winter days. We pile outside with blankets and soak it up. 
Wondering: What I'll be when I grow up. What's next? 
Pondering: Whether to do that Horticulture certificate or not
Looking: For a new climbing tree and into ways to increase access to natural public play spaces for all. Everyone needs to play more, I think.
Considering: some juicy plans with Huz as he completes his Permaculture Design Certificate. It's going to be exciting.
Marvelling: At our garden as it grows. Ever so slowly, it is taking shape all on its own. 
Hoping: The couch grass doesn't come back as strongly this spring. 


Opening: The curtains to the most amazing sunrises each day. 
Needing: Some quiet space every day. I'm a better parent and more creative with it. 
Smelling: Winter. The smell of wet earth on our walks. And soup in the slow cooker
Wearing: Holes in all my socks. I haven't bought socks since I stopped designing them.  
Following: My body's cues and trying to go to sleep earlier. Last night I failed dismally. 


Noticing: Tiny seems to have grown so much bigger lately. 
Knowing: She won't be small for much longer. 
Thinking: Our owlet baby days are over.
Feeling: Sad and sentimental about that. 
Sorting: Through the small clothes each of our three owlets have worn, as Tiny grows out of them.

2014-06-23 15.16.10

2014-06-28 14.18.23

Helping:  Little Owlet learn to sew her own clothes. On the machine my grandmother owned and my mother sewed her wedding dress on. Four generations. Little Owlet is so impressed with that. Bless her little vintage-loving heart. 

Buying: New clothes for Big Owlet. Everything's too small all of a sudden.
Admiring: Big Owlet's courage in performing her final drama performance for the term. 


Getting: Photo bombed by Tiny while I work. 
Bookmarking: TED Talks and similar to watch late at night when I have a quiet moment, so I can mull them over in my sleep. This one is my favourite right now.
Watching: Mad Men. We're catching up. Can't stop. We've come so far, but there's so much further to go. And I'm not just referring to the fact we're mid-season three. 
Disliking: The culture of litigation and rule making we live in. We are losing our freedom everyday. 


Giggling: At the funny little things the owlets say. I hope they never grow out of saying them. We try and keep them alive by adopting them into our vocabulary.
Feeling: Grateful for the strong and supportive relationships our owlets have with each other. They're great friends. Mostly.
Snacking: On medjool dates. My favourite sweet treat. They make a great smoothie too.
Coveting: The skills of these women. I think I'd like to build something one day too. 
Wishing: The weekends were longer. 
Hearing: Owlets playing piano. Chooks laying eggs again. Chainsaws in the distance. The echo of the river on peaceful evenings. Possums growling at me as I dash out the back door to get herbs for dinner. Huz coming home at the end of a long day… That's my favourite of all.

8 July 2014

Our tree...

Up the tree at Co-op today #tree #unschooling
I've never climbed this high before! #climb #tree #climber
Bubbles at co-op
A little show before home time at co-op today #coop #hobartnaturallearners #homeschooling #unschooling #playmatters
Good mates hanging out #playmatters #hobartnaturallearners #coop
Another magical day at our co-op... pushing Tiny on the swing 'til my arms hurt! #happydays #strongarms  #coop #hobartnaturallearners

We've been meeting with friends at our co-op for almost three years now. In that time, much of the play  has been witnessed, supported and shaded by the branches of one very large and beautiful willow tree. Big Owlet and I had known the tree since her playgroup days in the big hall, when she was Tiny's age. She'd stand underneath and marvel at the shadows and light filtering through the leaves.

Since we began holding our Hobart Natural Learners Co-op meets in the playground, friendships have been forged, fought over and strengthened under that tree. The children learnt to co-operate and problem solve tying a rope swing on its branches. They climbed the larger branches gleefully, facing fears and observing nature around them. We've woven willow crowns and fashioned brooms and horse reigns from it's smalls branches. We've escaped the scorching Tasmanian summer sun and sheltered from light rain under that majestic tree.

Since she was a baby, Tiny has sat in the swing underneath, asking me to push her "higher and higher!" until her bare toes touched the leaves above… We've loved that tree. A beautiful regular fixture in our weeks.

So you can imagine our shock last week when…


This happened.

The owlets immediately flew into hysterics and tears, greatly distressed at the loss of their tree. I must admit, I did too… We called Huz and asked him to contact the council to find out what was going on. He was put through to the head maintenance worker (let's call him gardening guy), who explained the situation to him and then marched over to us to explain further.

We were spoken to quite defensively and told "Shade sails are better than trees in children's playgrounds", and "Kids can climb trees in their own backyards". "What if you don't have a climbing tree in your backyard?" I asked. "Not my problem", said gardening guy. He also mentioned (I suspect it slipped out), that it was most likely a "financial matter" as "pruning the tree regularly to cut the branches is more expensive than pollarding." Uh huh. And therein lies the truth.

When we questioned the severity of the pruning, we were asked "Oh you're an arborist are you?" Not the most sensitive approach towards a group of people who were very clearly shaken and grieving. We were also told it'll grow back again, in a few years. Yeah.

It seemed to us that there was more to the story than a small amount of rot at the top of a couple of branches, despite the pictures we were shown of the tree before. Research tells us that pollarding perhaps isn't the best course of action for an old willow tree like this. It will shoot from the top, providing a light canopy in a few years time.

But the tree will never be climbable again, removing a potential liability risk for council, certainly. The look of recognition on the children's faces as they counted 35 rings on what was once their favourite climbing branch... They knew they'd never climb it again… "I'll bring my children here and they can climb it", said Big Owlet. I didn't have the heart to tell her that'll never happen.

The tree will be more susceptible to decay and disease now. Pollarding it will grow a smaller, light, maintainable canopy at the top, which will weep down if the council let it, but they'll not let any lower branches remain, as confirmed by gardening guy. And tiny toes will never reach for those leaves from the swing ever again.

The beautiful children who play in the playground every week, our gang, have felt a great sense of loss.  The playground is so stark now. It's beauty is lost forever. They picked flowers and branches (to stick into the tree in hopes they'd re-sprout) and drew pictures and left them for the tree before we headed off down the road for a fungi walk. When we returned an hour later, all of the gifts had been removed. We suspect  gardening guy was responsible for this too. Way to add to the grief of a bunch of small children, gardening guy…

The next morning, Little Owlet told me she woke up happy, and then she remembered. Our tree. Oh.

So we're feeling a spot of guerrilla gardening might be in order. Or yarn bombing. Or something that will honour our beautiful tree (and perhaps tick gardening guy off just a little). And make us feel a little less wobbly about being there now. And I'm considering exploring the realm of landscape design again, to provide access to natural play spaces for all. Watch this space…

Have you ever lost a tree you loved? 
What is the worth of a tree that provides shade and play for generations of people living in a neighbourhood, do you think? Should it outweigh maintenance budgets?
Do you think children should be able to climb trees in public places? 

Much love. xx