in my sister's back garden. It was an ancient, venerable tree much beloved by her family, the neighbours on the other side of the fence and the birds who rested in it and fed on the fruits of it.
The drought killed it - or, more realistically, the water restrictions which went with the drought killed it. My sister tried to save the tree. Buckets of recycled household water are like tear drops to a tree that size.
We accepted water restrictions were necessary. Some people went to 'water saving' gardens of 'native' plants. Even those were often unsuccessful. Many people just let their gardens die. They gave up trying to garden at all. Trees died all over the city, along with the lawns and the bushes and the pot plants and the vegetables. We lost two trees. They were seedlings we had never intended to plant but we were still sorry to lose them. So were the birds who sat in them and the cats who slept under them.
The walnut tree had to come down for safety's sake. My brother-in-law, a competent man, investigated the problem and brought in some help. They brought the tree down, piece by piece. It was done carefully. Tree felling is dangerous, especially when the tree is large, the garden small and there is still something to be done.
There were limbs that had gone rotten inside. Others were still solid. It was all laid out on the ground, a small mountain of mouse-brown and mouse-grey timber. Walnut is wonderful timber. A friend arrived. He sculpts for a living. Together they sorted the timber. He took a load away to work with. Some of it is already dry enough to use.
My father will have some for small boxes. We are storing some for my brother to use later. Yesterday my sister and I sorted through the smallest branches of all. We chose thinner, smaller, well shaped branches. My father will make buttons from these. I will use some and give others to friends.
The tree will go on living.