My life in trees

I feel like I may have already written this but I can’t find it so I’m going to assume I just pondered it… Trees are important. We carve names and lives into them. We shelter under them and clamber into them.

The first important tree in my life was the tree which introduced me to tree climbing. It was near our driveway and you could see the quiet lane from it. I had my spot and my younger sister had hers, slightly lower down. One day I was in the tree with an adventurous friend who went a bit higher than she should have and got stuck…  We were maybe 4 years old so the heady heights were thankfully fairly close to the ground.  Still friends with her when we were 18, we both remembered that tree.

Later on, I had a reading tree. You had to wrap your legs over a shoulder height branch and swing yourself into it, book and all. But once up, your back would lean against the Birch trunk and your legs would lay out ahead of you on the solid branches. You were slightly hidden in the leaves and so it doubled as a refuge. I never showed been my sister how to climb that tree.

The next important tree in my life was really more of a bench.  The trees sheltered the wooden seat round the corner from the university counselling service.  I would sit there, on a rarely used route, opposite a large metal Buddha in memory of someone or other.  I would sit in my just off the beaten path sanctuary and summon up the courage to enter the single story red brick building with the sign that seemed so huge to me that I couldn’t comprehend anyone not noticing I was going for counselling.  There was nothing else through that exposed door, there was no excuse if anyone saw me.  At that time I needed excuses.  I wasn’t ready to go public with my mental health.  I was barely ready to tell the counsellor.  Then, after, as I waited for my next lecture, I would return to my bench and my trees and the Buddha who was not mine and I would wait.

It was a while after that before I had another favourite tree.  And then it was more a place rather than the tree.  There were years when I didn’t look closely at trees, I just saw them as part of an environment.  I lived in one house for a few years then moved to the next street for a few more.  At the end of those roads, were some trees which dropped delicate pink blossom all over the pavement in the spring. In the summer, I would sit on the grass next to them and often, a small group of people would turn up and tie a tightrope between two of them.  They were fairly good at walking the line and I would steal glances at them through my sunglasses.  I didn’t know them but I felt a bond, we were sharing a space, we were sharing a summers day.

Diana Mini - York Walls

My current favourite tree is one I am documenting throughout the year.  It is a youngish red oak in my favourite park and it seems to be used as a meeting point for people.  The last time I saw it, mums in running clothes with pushchairs were stretching and greeting each other by it.  It is a tough tree.  It holds it’s leaves well past autumn.  It stands slightly alone, no tree within branch touching range.  But I like to think that the other trees are close enough to hear its whispers on the breeze.

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Oh, and I nearly forgot the tree from my primary school.  It was just out of sight from the teachers and dinner ladies.  I don’t remember how we got started but we were digging our way to my friend’s back garden.  It backed onto the school.  I’m not sure why we were trying to tunnel our way out of school.  Our school was a little bubble, a snowglobe of safe space.  But we spent lunch time after lunch time digging with our little twigs to get to the other side of the fence.  Looking back, I wonder why we didn’t chose a tree that was nearer her garden…

Do you have a favourite tree or trees which are important to you? Tell me about them!

Winter solstice

In my post about my words for 2017, I mentioned that I wanted to tune in more with the seasons.  As part of that, I want to do a photography project where I take a photo of the same tree each point on the wheel of the year starting with Winter Solstice.

Well, today is Winter Solstice.  And it looked like I was going to be rained off.  I had already made peace with the fact that I probably won’t get all my photos taken on the actual day because of my health and not being able to go out on my own in the rain… (I can’t put my wheelchair waterproof on myself).  But then the clouds parted, a bit of blue shone through and I headed out for a brief trip to the park.

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In addition to photos, I sat and wrote for a (very short) while and I’m going to compile some of the words and pictures into a book I made as part of my 2016 tree project.

I see… I feel… I hear…

I saw something somewhere which said write everything that you can see down.  It said it more elegantly but the idea lodged itself somewhere inside of me.  I’ve tried this technique a couple of times and it seems to be a good way for me to stay grounded whilst trying to capture a place.

I split my page into three and write the following, one per third:

I see…

I feel…

I hear…

I then collect words and phrases and leave them for a couple of days.  When I return to them with fresh eyes, it’s much easier to see new ideas and fresh images.  I then start assembling them.

For Denis, who spent many happy days in this park

Breeze rippling over lake.
Ducks callling newborns,
Break the water’s patterns.

Children’s calls grasp at paper,
Snippets of play
Against the twinkly tune.

Leaves dance,
Feet pound,
Keys jangle,
The park’s choreography.

Wistful eyes
Close, and faint
Seaside echoes
Pass through.

Wind whispers storm warnings.
Denis alone keeps watch.