when progress comes to shove

Progress comes in an orange truck and its connected trailer. It rumbles up the cobbled bluestone drive and parks right there in the middle. It is letting no one else in, nor out. It has taken the place it thinks rightfully belongs to it. Front and centre, without a care for squished feelings or bruised emotions.

And so the couple open the door to progress. Evolving progress. Ever progressing progress. Now it’s dressed in a fluro-vest and wears a protective helmet. It knows what it’s about to do and it has dressed for the occasion. The couple lead it carefully through their house and out the other side of their property. To a backyard that fences in an acre of land and a thousand other memories.

There they stand tall, two old gum trees that have guarded this family for over 40 years. The two iconic Australian river gums that are sure to be older than the oldest person alive. They’ve outlived generations of us. They’ve overseen a family home being built. They’ve watched as kids, then grandkids race around the garden playing ‘butterfly fever’ with a pool net. They’ve housed birds that use it as a pit-stop on their way to the Yarra River, and koalas that like to put on a show for the English tourists visiting for the summer. The trees are unlike anything man can build or create. Pure nature that just exists. Planted in a spot like this one, as if they knew the joy it would bring.

But they must come down, for progress wants to develop every inch of this tucked away land. The house has been sold. It’s too big, too impractical and the couple must downsize and simplify. And the trees are caught up in the mix. See progress in not always good. It is for some and it isn’t for others. It depends what side you’re on. It comes in the guise of wisdom, knowledge, improvement, and success, but it can trample the unsuspecting. Progress if for the masses, so what about the individual?

So the couple turn their backs to the destruction. It’s much too hard to stand by and just watch it happening. With those trees down, it’ll feel a lot less like home. They had a sleepless night thinking about their imminent loss. The kettle is boiling to whistle out the sound, but you can still hear the teeth of the chainsaw biting hard. You feel the thud of a limb crashing to the ground. The man scrunches his face and holds his gut when this happens, and the woman’s eyes pool.

Their house is sold and now it’s in the hands of developers. Only the couple and their kids and their grandkids and the many others that have filed under the trees’ branches will know the joy those trees have brought. Maybe that’s best, for no one could have memories to compare to theirs.

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