Rob the Tree Surgeon has been round today. We have a sick Sycamore.
'Yeah's not good.....' says Rob in his antipodean drawl 'Gorra go. Down. Fell it.'
We stand around, the three of us, scuffing our toes and jabbing a knife or a key intermittently into the tree's soft blighted bark (as if to prove a point). The tree has given up on us, shedding bark, underbelly exposed - it looks worse by the hour. It's an old 'un, this sycamore - a remainder of the hedge line that ran from the cow house into the dingle, a handsome thing too - with a branch which promised a swing for grandchildren yet unborn.
'Well if it's got to go, you'd better do it quickly,' we say - as if we were discussing the kindest end for the family dog. We add considerately 'When you can , of course.'
'Yeah right' says Rob. ' As soon as I can.' He's keen to be home watching the Rugby which started 10 minutes ago.
We'll miss it. I know we will, but here's an opportunity to plant afresh. A tree for the future.
I wonder - in one hundred years from now - will a wife, her man and a tree surgeon be plotting the demise of a beech or oak? Or will they hear the happy squeals of children peal out as they swoop and soar on the swing which hangs from this - as yet unplanted - tree?
I wish I knew.