I can clearly remember walking through the front door and thinking how narrow it was. Being a terrace house, there wasn't much chance of it being anything other than small and I did know this. I had already done my online research thoroughly. Seen the measurements. In turn, measured our existing furnishings in our equally tiny apartment. I actually even snuck off on a Saturday morning, an eighteen month old Angus perched on my hip, while Scott was playing golf. I recall not being too concerned about viewing it on my own, as like so many other places I/we had looked at, I didn't hold out a great deal of hope that this was "the one". That was until I stepped inside.
Apart from it being in all round excellent condition (particularly for a dwelling built circa 1885), it had a true sense of coziness about it. A place I knew I could call home. As I wandered through, I was completely blown away by the magnificent gum trees towering sky high just past the courtyard. Creating an almost country like scene, from both the kitchen picture window and one of the upstairs bedrooms. If I had not already known this place was actually within a 5km radius of the city, I would have thought it was miles from anywhere. Those incredible gums. Stretching so tall and proud against the backdrop of blue sky.
Fast forward 18 months to the present and my original romantic illusions are somewhat plagued. I feel now I have learnt five key things about trying to acquire your own little piece of country... in the big city:
- Gum trees lose their leaves ALL. YEAR. LONG - our courtyard testament to this, flaunting a permanent gum leaf carpet. Perfect if we owned a pet koala. Not so perfect for trying to keep a paved courtyard looking fresh and clean. LOTS and LOTS of maintenance.
- Gum nuts drop twice the quantity AND twice as often as the leaves do - Unfortunately they are nowhere near as delicate under foot either. Not to mention they have an artful way of lodging themselves into anything and everything! Socks, undies, shoes... the list goes on.
- Eucalyptus isn't always an alluring native fragrance - as un-Australian as that statement may be, during wet weather, sweet eucalyptus scent transforms into a determined pungent stench. Similar only to that of a territorial tomcat, who is yet to be desexed. Quite repulsive.
- If the wind is a-blowing, the gum tree will be a-swaying - we have experienced a handful of gale force wind storms, each and every time leaving us praying that the giant limbs teetering over our yard, will in fact stay connected to the main trunk of the tree. NOT plummet down through the roof of our bathroom or kitchen. The clean up after such storms once again exceeds the general leaf/gum nut clean up... two fold.
- Finally, a fairly obvious lesson I have learnt... massive trees have equally massive root structure - it took me three plumber visits and over $5000 in repairs, in our first year of living here, to fully fathom the damage tree roots can do to the sewer line/drainage of a built up, suburban based terrace house. OUCH!
Scott, myself and our neighbours have often wondered why trees of this size and structure were ever even planted in the middle of suburbia. We've discussed it at length and contemplated a solution to our 'lessons learnt'. Essentially they are on public land, which just so happens to be land at the foot of our properties. Probably the result of someone's whimsical dream way back when. A way of providing shade, a sanctuary for bird and other wildlife, a little piece of country within the city, maybe? It's anybody's guess. But looking out of my boy's bedroom window on these summer evenings, as I close the blinds on the day, I can actually see why someone would want to create this type of setting. It's peaceful and bright. Appealing to the eye. It is the view I fell in love with the very first time I laid eyes on it. Hard lessons learnt and all, I do have a soft spot for those pesky gums.