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Tree Storm, Mortal Danger and Cantonese -

A couple of weeks ago we had a strong wind warning here in Mallorca. Some called it a storm, but it was difficult to take it seriously as the sun was burning down - 24 degrees on my terrace in January. (In the sun! Inside my office: 11 degrees.)

Tree-trunk Storm, Mortal Danger and Cantonese -
Tree trunk after removal

However, on my afternoon dog walk the next day I noticed a hullabaloo outside a friend's house - there were fire trucks, uniforms, police cordons. A rather large eucalyptus tree had toppled, taking a corner of the house and an outdoor iron fence and parts of the staircase with it. My friend N said it had happened during the night, but as he had just thought it was "someone trying to kick down the neighbours' door" he had turned over and gone back to sleep. 

Tree-storm-house-corner Storm, Mortal Danger and Cantonese -

N's flat is on the other side of the building, but whoever lives in the corner flat where the tiles have been crushed must have received a lot of free rainwater during the next few days. Then it was back to burning sun again and no need to think about it anymore. But I did. 

That crushed staircase could easily have been me. 

My first three years on the island I lived in an old Mallorcan house, an old fishmonger's built in the 1800s, with two floors, two balconies and a sea view. 

And a tree. 

My-gaff-and-tree Storm, Mortal Danger and Cantonese - I took a photo of it from a nearby building, and measured it to be exactly four times the height of my house. 

The tree was a Norfolk Island pine, which should never have left Norfolk Island. Not only did it constantly shed smelly acorn-like leaves, but every time it was windy, it shook so much I couldn't sleep. For the house, for all its charm and uniqueness, sported walls 8 cm thick and a roof that consisted of ... some tiles. 

Having seen the ravages of more typhoons than you have had hot dinners with the subsequent corpses of mature trees strewn everywhere, I knew that the damned tree would come down one day. And that as soon as it toppled, my entire house would be crushed, my upstairs bed receiving the main impact. I lay shaking in un-sleep every time the wind howled, which it did less rarely than you would think. 

The tree was so ridiculous, its trunk so overpowering, I had to include it in the first film I made in Mallorca. 

I begged the landlord to take it down, but he thought it was so beautiful and a 'real landmark'. And it was true, unlike the Great Wall, it really could be seen from space, or at least from the ferry to Menorca as he often pointed out. That was evidently worth the death of a tenant. 

But when the neighbours on both sides started digging deep holes in their gardens, cutting many of the tree roots, as well as dropping large metal beams onto my flower pots and drilling through a wall just above my bed (that's how I got the opportunity to measure the wall's "thick"ness) do you think I lost my enchantment with the gaff and got out? 

Garden Storm, Mortal Danger and Cantonese -

Not at all. What saved me was that the landlord was a serial rent-ist, known in the area for telling tenants to do whatever they wanted to improve the house, and then kicking them out when the three year lease was up. 

So now I must weigh the indignity of living in a flat, up against sleeping well at night and never being flooded. Or crushed.

Flat wins! 

Another thing that must win, is the Cantonese culture against the Mandarin behemoth. 

Learn Cantonese the Natural Way - from a Norwegian! 

Today's Cantonese: 好驚呀 - hou gehng ah - well scared/scared shitless