Monday, 7 April 2014

Tecoma frustrations

For much of last week, the road where I live had turned into a mini flower park. For about the first time since we moved here about 10 years ago, the Tecoma tree on the pavement bloomed profusely. On both up and down the same road and on other adjacent roads too, other Tecoma trees were also in full blossom. As a result, the whole roads were almost unrecognisable with deep pink, light pink and white Tecoma flowers everywhere.

(Pretty, no doubt; breath-taking, no doubt; but....)

Unfortunately, Tecoma flowers do have a very short lifespan and daily, we've been seeing our front porch together with the roadsides, pavements and drains covered with a very thick layer of flower petals, particularly after a heavy windstorm and rainstorm. It had been a very difficult chore trying to clear the ground of these petals because no sooner had I done so would a fresh batch of flowers start to drop.

The petals that fell within my compound were swept into the trash bag and I was kind of surprised to note how heavy the trash bag had become. Just flowers filling up perhaps slightly less than half a trash bag but boy, were the flowers heavy. Moreover, the decaying flowers left a trail of liquid that quickly stained my cemented porch floor.

As for the petals outside the house, I managed to sweep all of them up and left them by the roadside. It was a huge pile of fresh pink and dried brown flowers. I wouldn't have been able to throw these away by myself and would have to leave it to the Province Wellesley Municipal Council (MPSP) workers to clear them away when they do their once-a-week rounds.

I was really frustrated and in my frustration, I had posted on my facebook, not expecting any reaction from anyone: "Much has been said and written about the beauty of the Tecoma trees that are blooming all over the Penang island and mainland. I would now like to ask the MPPP Watch and MPSP Watch, as well as the powers-that-be in the Penang Government when they can take responsibility over the decision to grow such trees and start clearing away the decaying/decomposing/dried mess of Tecoma flowers on the roads, roadsides, pavements, drains and even the compounds of people's houses??"

Then two days ago, I decided to log into the Citizen Action Technology website (better known as the #BetterPenang website) and lodged a suggestion: "May I have MPSP arrange for their people to clear the roadsides DAILY of the fallen Tecoma flower petals? Thank you." It was already late on a Saturday afternoon. I would presume that if anyone would respond, they would only do so on Monday.

(I should also mention that MPSP's sweepers service my neighbourhood only once a week which is grossly insufficient. Lately, since MPSP took full charge of this responsibility after terminating the services of their contractors, I have been noticing MPSP staff coming around on Wednesday mornings to clear the drains and sweep the roads - something that had seldom happened under the old contract system. But this is clearly not enough if roads are left dirty for the remaining six days of a week. Are the rate-paying residents meant to contribute their free time by sweeping the roads outside their houses during these six days?)

Anyhow on yesterday morning (a Sunday), I notice suddenly that the drain outside the house was surprisingly clean. No fallen flower petals floating about. A clean fresh drain indeed. Very thankful for the unseen person or persons that had come to remove the flowers. I looked up and down the road but nobody was in sight. Unfortunately, I had not seen them come around or surely, I would have thanked them for this.

And today (a Monday), as I was about to leave the house at 8.30 a.m., I noticed that the big pile of flowers that I had left by the roadside had vanished as well. My neighbour, Ean, was pottering around outside her gates but she said that she hadn't noticed anyone coming by. And certainly, it wasn't her that have cleared up the pile. So I can only assume again that the unseen hands of the MPSP had come swiftly by to do their job. I'm ever thankful as the pile of decaying flowers was beginning to look very gamey.

Thankful, I've just taken to the #BetterPenang website again to send a feedback saying: "***This is not a complaint but a feedback on a suggestion that I lodged two days ago. *** I would like to say Thank You to the MPSP for their fast-acting action concerning the mess of dropped Tecoma flowers in Lorong Jernih 4. Yesterday morning, I discovered that someone had cleared the open drain outside my house of the flowers. And today, I noticed that the decaying flowers from the roadside, which I had swept into a huge pile, had been removed. I did not witness anyone doing both actions outside my house and can only assume that the MPSP workers had moved in. If so, I wish to thank them for the fast work."

Since yesterday, I have noticed that there are lesser flowers dropping from the Tecoma tree. Stands to reason, of course, because the bulk of the flowers have already dropped. Nevertheless, I would estimate at least one or two thousand flowers remaining on the branches. Definitely, it will be less of a challenge to me.

But I suppose that I shouldn't be too happy that there will now be less flowers for me to sweep up until the end of the flowering season. Already, when I looked out of the window this morning, I can see the lengthy seed pods forming in the tree. I know that shortly, after the flowers are all gone, the seed pods will mature and burst to distribute the translucent winged Tecoma seeds and these will fly everywhere the winds take them. My front porch will again be filled with the winged seeds and I shall be filling in another trash bag just to hold them until thrown away. Such is the vicious life-cycle of a Tecoma tree that I'm caught within.

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