Never an Evil Spirit!
by Patricia Pollard
(Nelson, New Zealand)
About 18 years ago we lived in West Vancouver in Canada. On a curve in our front garden we had a beautiful Madrone tree, locally known as Arbutus, which must, during its lifetime have had a lot of competition for light as it was almost horizontal for half its length/height - and then it grew upwards after reaching out sideways.
It had that characteristic red bark that shed every year and always drew the eye of the beholder who passed by.
One year we got new neighbours over the road whose front door was exactly opposite that part of our garden with the Arbutus tree. Our new neighbours were an Asian family of four, Mum and Dad and two young children. One day we were approached by the Dad about our "sick tree". He was very worried about it and the evil that might be associated with it and was agonising over the evil spirits that might find their way through their front door! He requested that we cut it down before it did any harm.
We had to quickly dream up a reply that would calm the troubled waters so we said "Oh no, no that isn't the case at all - this is a special tree, a sacred tree for West Coasters here and chopping it down would break the good spirits within the tree and that is why all the weird-shaped Arbutus trees of British Columbia are treasured by the people".
And so we won the day, kept our lovely tree and remained on good terms with the neighbours!
Unfortunately, it's so long ago that we don't have a picture to accompany our tale.
And long live all Arbutus trees!!