Week 39/2023: Heartbreak

Heartbreak: The oak and the plover

Week of 25 September 2023

The oak

When Kramstable left primary school in 2018, his school gave each of the year 6 leavers an oak sapling descended from its oak tree as a memory of their time there.

I wrote about it at the end of last year as I was thinking about how much had changed since he got the sapling, and how well it was doing.

It had been in the same pot since 2018, so this winter I attempted to put it into a bigger pot.

I was worried this might damage it or kill it, having had no experience with growing oak trees before. I was so relieved when a few weeks ago, the first signs of tiny buds appeared on its fragile stems and it looked to be coming back for summer.

My relief was short lived on Sunday morning, when I went outside and saw a gigantic possum shit on the ledge right next to the sapling and most of those tiny, fragile buds gone.

A small oak sapling in a pot that has had most of its buds eaten
What the possum left

I was devastated.

I’ve kept this baby alive in this same spot for almost five years and the possums have never done anything to it.

Why now?

Is it destroyed? I have no idea. My ray of hope is that they haven’t eaten all of the buds. The biggest one still looks intact. There is life.

All I can do it wait and see.

I know an oak tree is a long-game plant, and this sapling’s growth rate has been very small, but each year the number of leaves has increased and it’s been looking good. If it does survive this attack, maybe it will be set back by a couple of years, which isn’t much in the life of an oak but right now feels like an eternity.

The plover

Of course, my day didn’t get better.

I went for my walk and took my camera hoping to see the plover (sorry, masked lapwing) family I’ve been observing (from a respectful distance) the past few weeks. When I got to their patch, I couldn’t see them, which immediately made me fear the worst.

Looking around the area, I finally saw a dead bird lying in the grass. One of the adults.

The other adult and their chick were further away, in the car park, and I felt awful for them. I didn’t want to get too close and was glad I had my zoom lens so I didn’t have to.

A very small, down-covered masked lapwing chick walking on bitumen
Masked lapwing chick navigating the car park

I love these birds and felt so sad to see the chick with only one parent. I have no idea if it was death from natural causes or something else, I just hope the remaining parent is able to look after its baby.

Yes, I know, wild birds, nature, what happens happens. Just like the possum goes out looking for food and finds a tasty oak sapling, birds die.

But I’m still sad.

Point to Pinnacle: Week 5

I had my appointment with the foot physiotherapist this week.

Because he was going to treat my sore foot, he had to touch my foot.

Did I mention how much I hate people touching my feet?

I hate people touching my feet.

It was necessary though, and, along with the injury, he identified a couple of interesting anatomical features of my feet that I was totally unaware of.

He said he could suggest “accommodations” for the injury but that this wouldn’t fix the problems I’m having, which thankfully aren’t structural. Accommodating them will just reinforce the stats quo and probably lead to me needing more accommodations later down the track as I get used to the initial fixes. A better way to manage it will be to deal with the cause. Or causes. There are a few.

One is that as you get older, you lose fat from the sole of your feet, so you have less cushioning and, therefore, more discomfort.


Let me get this right. There are hundreds of places on your body where you gain unwanted fat as you get older but one place you actually need it, you lose it? That makes no sense.

Bodies are weird.

Foot Physio thinks that the main issue is with my nerves, connected to my back injury and the resulting nerve issues, and that my nerves are confused and sending muddled messages to my brain including messages that my foot is in danger and needs to be protected.

It actually isn’t, and the way we fix this is with nerve flossing.

Nerve flossing?! That sounds icky!

It’s also known as neural gliding, which sounds way more impressive and less gross. This is less complicated than I expected, and my main problem has been finding a thing I can use to support my upper back while I do the exercises.

I also have to massage the sole of my foot.


More foot touching!

Walking continues to be good for this and I must keep going, which is exactly what I wanted to hear.

My foot was really sore on Saturday’s five km walk, making me wonder if I was going to even be able to get to the starting line of the Point to Pinnacle, let alone the end!

A distance view of kunanyi/Mt Wellington close up of the Organ Pipes. The sky is blue
Remind me again why I’m doing this?

But what was good about that (apart from sitting down at the end) was that as soon as I stopped walking the pain went away. This, added to the fact there’s no damage to my foot, is a big relief.

Because of that experience, I was nervous about my planned nine km walk on Sunday. I had all sorts of back-up plans in case I couldn’t make the distance. None of them were needed. My foot felt a little uncomfortable but there was no pain, and I ended up walking 11 kilometres before a very much needed coffee in town.

Week 5: tracking against the plan

  • Monday (2 km): 1.4 km
  • Tuesday (2 km): 2.23 km
  • Wednesday 3 km): 3.37 km and 3.02 km
  • Thursday (2 km): 2.38 km
  • Friday (2 km): 0.84 km
  • Saturday (3 km): 5.07 km
  • Sunday (9 km): 11.13 km

Week 39 summary

What was the best thing about this week?

Walking 11 km didn’t hurt.

And I found my door key that had been missing for two weeks.

What did I notice this week?

Some of the oak trees in Parliament lawns are totally fully leaved up and some are only just starting to bud.

Some oak trees are in full leaf and others are just staring to bud in Parliament Lawns
Some oak trees that haven’t been eaten by possums

Also, why?

A pair of black and white running shoes hanging from an oak tree
Not my shoes

What did I learn this week?

The word ‘pernicious’ means having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way.

What I’m reading this week

  • Fine on Acting: A Vision of the Craft by Howard Fine
  • Architectural Photography and Composition by Steven Brooke
  • Bullshit Jobs: The Rise of Pointless Work and What We Can Do About It by David Graeber
Share this