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I may have said before but I love this tree.

For me it represents the ebbs and flows of life, in the way it sways in the breeze, and then sways in the howling winds we get on the top of this hill. It never blows about furiously, nothing seems to rile it, it just goes with the flow. When I look out of my bedroom window, from the wonderful vantage point of my bed, this is what I see, waving at me as if to say ‘Go with the flow, girl, and everything will be alright. Look at me, I stand here in the long winter, and just wait patiently for Spring to come.’ All will be what it needs to be in the end, just trust it.

But this winter we noticed a small white pouch hanging off of it’s branches, and thought ‘Oh no!’ It was a sac of processionary caterpillars!! Now these little critters will all decide, one day in Spring, to climb down the tree nose to arse in a procession (hence the name) and go off to find somewhere to bury themselves in our garden and emerge later in the autumn as moths. These moths will then go back to ‘My’ tree and build some more sacs, multiplied many times, and lay more eggs. Only thing is this time the little critters will come out and strip my tree!!

The other problem, which was immediate and very serious, was that said caterpillars would kill my animals. They are extremely toxic and were the animals to touch them, or were we to touch them, then the very least would be a nasty, nasty rash, but for the dogs, especially, it would mean a form of anaphylaxis and they would die.

The sac had to come down, before the caterpillars did!!

Sadly this meant we had to cut the branch from the tree; so our wonderful, knows no fear, lumberjack friend came along on Monday to resolve the problem. Now these little critters are clever, the nest was on a branch over forty foot up the tree. So up went our nearly septuagenerian friend (he would out us all to shame he is so fit!) forty foot up the ladder (hand saw in hand) and then jumps into the tree and climbs another ten feet, all the time with me footing the ladder with my eyes shut!

They did not come easy and the branch got stuck, so we had to cut another three branches from the tree, and still they would not drop! So there was our friend jumping up and down on the other branches to jolt the cut branches out of the tree, with me shouting at him to ‘be careful’ all the time. I think the adrenaline rush is what keeps him young in body and mind!

The bonfire was built, because you have to burn these suckers, it is the only way, and they were promptly dispatched to caterpillar heaven.

All part of living in the countryside!

I felt so guilty for my wonderful tree of Tao, but I knew that it had to be done, to save it’s life. Now it still waves at me, only this time it is saying ‘Thank you’.

Moisy