OK, I admit it. I don’t do nature. I hate dirt and bugs. The idea of willingly sleeping in a tent and cooking food on an open campfire seems slightly bonkers to me.
But – and here is the hypocrisy of it all – I do like trees. Big, old, beautiful trees that offer plenty of shade and are gorgeous to look at. Problem is I don’t want one smack bang in the middle of my dream kitchen.
As it just so happens, I have one of those big old beautiful trees in my backyard. It’s just that it’s located pretty much where our house extension will go.
This is already a difficult situation, but add one environmental scientist husband to the mix (read: closet tree-hugger disguised in corporate attire) and you’ve got quite a dilemma.
Our renovation project has stalled since I updated you last – which is, well, why I haven’t updated you. After a brief but intense period of renovations we happily settled into our cute cottage. We’ve now been living here a year… but… well the thing about cute cottages – they’re kinda small. And no amount of Hemnes storage solutions can hide that.
So, here we are finally at stage two. The extension. It’s just that it’s been derailed slightly by Tree Wars. For the last three months we’ve been deliberating over the design of our plans, and not really getting anywhere.
Hubby decided the solution was to call an arborist for advice. On the surface it seemed like a good idea. Get an indication on the health of the Beautiful but Inconveniently Located Tree, and find out how close we can build. Sensible, right?
It took me approximately 2 seconds to realise this arborist was no ‘tree doctor’ – he was a tree advocate and husband ally. Extremely pro-tree. It took me approximately 2.5 seconds to realise any vague hopes I had of him saying ‘oh this old Jacaranda is riddled with tree rot, it’ll have to go’ – were dashed.
Basically this is how our conversation went:
Me: So this is the tree.
Him: Wow! What a gorgeous old tree. You don’t see many like this around. Wow! What an asset.
Me: (Deflated sigh)
I am not exaggerating.
At this point I realised I would be racked with guilt if I chopped down a tree purely to make room for a slightly larger dining table. Suddenly I had heartwarming visions of our son playing on a swing under the Jacaranda blossoms. I was in the process of mentally rearranging our house plans to make way for that Beautiful but Inconveniently Located Tree when I heard him say this to my hubby:
Him: You know people pay a lot of money for these trees.
Me: (Snapping back to reality) Really? Like how much?
Him: About 50 grand. Hotels would pay that to put one in a beer garden.
Suddenly I was willing to sacrifice my child’s happiness. Never mind him frolicking under the Jacaranda tree. This was business. And maybe, just maybe – a Carrera marble island bench.
Him: (Laughs) Oh no, you wouldn’t get the money. That’s what it would cost to uproot it and transport it.
Me: (Deflated sigh)
Which brings us to our current situation. Which is – designing around the tree. Even our draftsperson admitted most people wouldn’t compromise their house design for a tree, no matter how beautiful. But clearly, we’re not most people. Even though I did end up jumping on the tree bandwagon, I’m savvy enough to realise this concession does give me quite a bit of bargaining power, so I decided to harness it. Compromise: hubby gets the tree, I get a walk in wardrobe the size of a small country.
So at last our tree dilemma is resolved. Which means finally, we can move on with our plans, a relief because we’re on quite a schedule. You see, as if renovating while living in a shoe-box sized cottage with a very active toddler isn’t challenging enough, baby number two is on the way. What can I say. I live on the edge. I’m not deluded enough to think things will be even remotely close to being finished for our new arrival. But at least we’ll have a great tree.