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Sunday, 8 August 2010

Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree

I love trees. I love all sorts of trees, big, small and in between. I fell in love with the Ents in Lord of the Rings and have a passion for Yew.

To me they are as alive as my next door neighbour - in fact they're more so. They don't just stand there doing nothing. They do masses - very slowly.

We have an oak in our garden. My wife picked up an acorn in Kew Garden soon after we moved into our house 14 years ago. She put it in a pot and now it's grown out of the bottom of the pot and is 12 feet tall. Each spring we'd watch it sprout new leaves and measure its growth. Initially it was hidden by all the other plants and shrubs but slowly it pushed its way up and now is overlording them all - except our very old sycamore.

Our monkey puzzle tree is slow even by standard tree time. It seems to spend most of its energies making its leaves as spiky as possible, not worrying too much about climbing to the sky. And our tree peony, after a few fallow years is covered in colour - fleetingly in spring. All that effort and it's over in an evening. Strange that something that counts the years in decades should rush to get over procreation. Maybe it's embarrassed by the mechanics.

It is of course the power of 2 that drives nature's  fecundity. Watch a tree over the years. To begin with there's just one growing point - can't do much with that. But then it bifurcates and next year you've two points of growth and then they bifurcate and you've four points of growth; and so on. It' so simple but frighteningly powerful.

Have you noticed trees which bend metal or brick. If they can't bend they absorb. A length of railing disappears into the trunk of a tree to re-appear when the tree decides. Or an ancient door whose misfortune it was to be next to a slow growing yew. Over the centuries the door has kept guard - halting all but the holy and penitent from its threshold. But the sacred yew cannot be stopped as it bends the brick and mortar to its patient advance.

Enter an ancient church yard. You are greeted by sentinels, standing silent but watching as they have done since the saints touched our shores. It is both reassuring and awesome. If anything understands eternity it is the yew.

So it is with a joyous welcome that I greet our Council's new tree strategy. An ugly phrase for a beautiful plan. Our  trees are valued, they are invaluable members of our community. Providing contrast, clean air, delight and a healthy attitude. Trees are like churches - beacons - marking out the community. Anchoring what can seem to be a shifting topography. Give trees the vote I say.

And this won't just be another policy that fails to materialise. Not only warm words and pious hopes. No, this time the trees are backing this and they're on the move.

Just ask Saruman.

3 comments:

G said...

Your admiration comes across well - poetically put; well done.

It is a marvel to see a railing disappearing into a tree. It's difficult to imagine how such a thing could be possible, but I guess it's a simple action occurring over vast time-spans.

You ever read any Taosim? You might like it. Well, some things going by that name are kinda superstitious but anything by Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu is good.

I read Lord of the Rings in my teens; never been so swallowed up in a book since. Loved the Ents and Tom Bombadil.

I have two old peace lillies (originally one) that have not flowered for the first year since I've had them - good to know this just happens sometimes. :-)

The Chick said...

I have tons of them on my property and will not permit the removal of any of them. They have been there since before the house and I have no right to uproot !

Barry Coidan said...

G, thanks. Many years ago I was into Zen. Dr Susuki and the Zen Doctrine of No Mind. I swore at the time that it improved by bar billiards no end.

TC, consider yourself an honorary Ent.