Sunday 27 January 2013


We take them far to much for granted, don't we. Perhaps not if you are an apple farmer, or someone scaling the heights of a coconut tree to make a living, or someone watching in desperation as yet another few meters of their dense forest canopy is swept away to make room for cash crops. But as a rule we probably do.
These incredible structures. I was looking at a 'pin d'alep' yesterday on a dog walk; it must have been as tall as the average town church, all its lower branches decayed and fallen off over the years, just the top limbs spreading out, the tips showing new growth. How does the sap get up there? The complexity and force needed to nourish that tree, planted in its dry impoverished looking hillside.
When I was about eleven and walked to school, I always took the same route, looked at the same gardens, noted the minute changes, saw the same cats and ran a stick along the same London-blackened wooden fences - drrrrrrrrr click-click-click-drrrrrrrr.
One day about half way along the walk, I looked up into the branches of a winter-bare oak and it suddenly struck me - what would happen if the trees never came out this year, never budded even, just sat in a dormant sulk, or just died. I went on to imagine disaster movies - The year the trees refused to leaf - and stories surrounding the subject. Supposing they somehow communicated with each other - all over the world, then what.
Well, we would all be wiped out of course.
Go for a walk, hug a tree, or at least look at it with a kind and respectful eye, even the lowly specimens folk regard as giant weeds, like those colonising the slope at the back of our house. I can't remember the name of them but they have a Sumac look about them, without the useful red blooms. Locals that have come to the garden to repair something always look at the bank and mutter about them being rats of the vegetation world. I like them, I'm sure they are a pain in some places, but here, they hold the soil down and create a wonderful rustling almost tropical view from the kitchen window in the summer.

Very early Catkins braving the North winds a few days ago.

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