Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Branching out

I've befriended a few trees in my four years out in the far reaches of John Betjeman's Metroland. Not surprising since trees outnumber humans here, and can be more sociable.

My neighbour's yard is overshadowed by a huge oak that hosts a noisy sunrise choir of birds of all feathers. Ana calls it 'my tree', because it's the first thing she sees from her window each morning.

In the winter it is etched against the sky in a bright snowy outline. In the autumn it spreads orange and yellow confetti across our yard, and the girls spend hours rolling in the leaves, tossing them, giggling and inevitably eating some too. Once per year, my neighbour  tries to grievously injure himself by climbing upwards and trimming its vigorous growth - it is a process that involves rope, chainsaws, and a good deal of luck.

Ana's tree.

After Ana's tree, my next best leafy friend lives along the Chess Valley between the sleepy villages of Latimer and Chenies. My friend lives in a muddy field - a beautiful spot, though cows-infested and bearing this rather alarming sign: 'dogs seen worrying livestock will be shot'. My friend is an ancient oak stump - a huge one - with a little tiny oak sapling growing right out of the middle - a thing far too symbolic to retain any real tree street cred to be honest. The oak is fenced in by a tangle of barbed wire (presumably to keep out the worrisome dogs), but there is also a nice place to sit nearby. A good thing, because if you find the spot, you too will have to sit and think about it for a while.  

Dawn chorus choir bench. 
I can't find a picture of it - not sure if I ever even took one. But an image of it will be etched in my mind long after we leave Metroland.

A deciduous post inspired by The Gallery at Sticky Fingers.


  1. Your tree friend sounds like the sort of thing that gives me the heebie-jeebies. The way that trees and plants persist, creeping round and through things to find nourishment, scares me a bit. I think the fear started with my aunt's cheeseplant, which reached out of the pot and burrowed into the carpet around 1989. (Your posts inspire me to leave weirder comments than I would on other blogs!)

  2. I always love your creative (if not sometimes strange - the creepy dog springs to mind) posts.

    That shot of Ana's tree in the winter is beautiful.

  3. What a well written and very interesting post. I'm a lover of trees, too, though I wouldn't hug one. I love your daughter's take on the tree outside her bedroom window.

    CJ xx

  4. Nobody likes worried livestock. But I love trees, too. BTW, congrats on your following; I just noticed the huge HUGE JUMP since I last had the pleasure to lazily peruse your blog...the student surpasses the teacher ha ha..

  5. beautiful photos and great words. trees rock :)

  6. Kirsty - no worries - 'weird' is a word that I'm commonly associated with! Had no idea you could have a cheeseplant - how wonderful - I want one in Roquefort, but not a scary one that takes over my carpet.

    Thanks SAHMlovingit - sadly, strange is my only party trick! I am bereft of Creepy Dog these days, almost missing him :(

    OAG, how nice to see you here! Impossible for a student to ever surpass a true master. Welcome back from your travels through time and space.

    And cheers Crystal Jigsaw and tiddlyompompom - what lovely words - I think it's fine to admire trees from a distance (you can get splinters hugging them to be honest:)

  7. What a great post, you write so beautifully. Lovely photos too, love Ana's tree.

  8. I have a cheeseplant called Cyril who will need a new home in June if anyone wants him? It breaks my heart to leave him actually :(

    Great post and fabulous photos. Although I really want to see the stump... xxx

  9. I'm often associated with 'weird'! I always take it as a compliment :)
    Beautiful trees - I could (and do) stare at trees far too much!

  10. that is so sweet. it reminds me of a silver birch in Balliol's quad that i called 'my tree' too. sadly, a few years ago it disappeared. i really hope it wasn't just because the Master wanted an uninterrupted view across the quad...



  11. Lovely post and I especially like the light and colours in that last photo x

  12. I bought my first home solely because I liked the trees outside the window. Silly but true.

  13. Thanks Looking for Blue!

    Linz, I would give Cyril a home, but I am moving to a smaller flat (and Kirsty has left me a little wary of cheeseplants:)!

    Kate, always nice to meet a fellow wierdo - I agree - it's a badge of honour!

    Truffle, I am sorry you lost your tree. No tree can ever replace a lost one, but there are so many other beautiful trees, always just around the corner.

    KLZ, I think that shows wisdom, I hope it was a happy home?

  14. beautiful photos and great words. trees rock :)

  15. I have a cheeseplant called Cyril who will need a new home in June if anyone wants him? It breaks my heart to leave him actually :(

    Great post and fabulous photos. Although I really want to see the stump... xxx