There’s something about a tree-lined street. I grew up in Stocksbridge on a street that wasn’t tree-lined, but I walked to school along one that was. It was a break from the sun on hot days, shelter from the drizzle on damp days.
I loved autumn, when I could kick through the leaves. Mum wasn’t as impressed when, back home, I removed shoes and bits of dead leaf scattered the carpets.
I once found a dinner plate-sized lime leaf and carried it carefully to school for the nature project my class was working on.
Most of us made a crayon rubbing of it for the front page of our project books. I still have mine.
I always associated tree- lined streets with affluence. The houses always seemed to be bigger, the gardens more lush. I loved Nether Edge, street after street of tree-shaded road.
Years later I moved to Sharrow where big, showy sycamores spread their branches over the pavement.
The first spring we lived there we learned not to park the car directly under a tree after the sticky sap stuck the wipers to the windscreen.
In autumn magpies – what had they eaten? – left huge, dirty splots all over a car parked under the branches.
One memorable winter, the tree directly outside our gate proved a handy brake, the car sliding into it and staying there for a few days until the snow cleared.
The pavement along that road wasn’t wide, and it certainly wasn’t flat.
You learned to ‘watch where you were walking’ (in my grandmother’s words) and young mothers bumped prams carrying giggling toddlers along it in a free fairground ride.
One day a group of us gathered in concern when it became apparent one of the trees was to go. Why?
“It’s diseased,” the man in the fluorescent vest said.
When it came down we could see he was right, there was a hole right through its trunk.
We knew it had to be but the gap it left was huge and strange.
A young, much smaller specimen was planted immediately, but it wasn’t the same and small children were disappointed.
Jarvis Cocker sings about ‘those useless trees’.
I’m pretty sure that he’s being ironic.
Trees are a welcome intrusion of the natural world into the urban, refusing to be constricted by Tarmac or wall.
That’s what trees do. Leave them alone.
* Ex-Pat from Stocksbridge, who now lives in New Zealand