Ailanthus Altissima. Tree of Heaven

When I went round Norman was working in the waste area behind his new annex. He had all sorts of tools lying by him, including a pickaxe, a crowbar and a sledgehammer.

“I’m getting rid of a an infestation. Ailanthus altissima. Tree of Heaven. Should be called the tree from hell”.

This plant is really difficult to get rid of. It produces suckers and resprouts if you cut it.

Amanda was watching, carrying her baby on her hip.

Melanie’s little lime-green city car swept into the yard.

She went straight over and said something to Norman clearly not intended for us.

Amanda said to me: “Didn’t you used to go to South America in your work?”

She said she had been to Ecuador on a student trip. She was really pleased that Chevron, the oil company, was going to be fined billions of dollars for the damage done as result of its drilling operations in the Amazon.

“I’m going to lend you a documentary about it called “Crude”, and she went off to her little flat in the annex.

“Perhaps she should sort out her own life,” said Melanie across to me, “and not worry too much about things that she doesn’t understand”.

I didn’t realise that she had been listening.

I wonder how this is going to develop.

It wasn’t the time for me to speak to Norman.

As I was leaving, something made the rooks in the tall trees across the road from Norman’s house swirl up and take off to another stand of trees 200 metres away.

This morning I saw pictures of the debris from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, cars and aeroplanes and houses thrown about like toys in a child’s sandpit.