Monday, 28 December 2009

I think that I shall never see.............

If you are of a certain age, your response to this title will be to supply the next line:-
A poem lovely as a tree!
I have just driven out with the farmer through the Dale. The snow is beginning to go but only very slowly. So slowly in fact that I can't help thinking of the old folk lore we trotted out as children:- if it is going slowly then it is surely waiting for more to fall. The difference being that in those days we didn't want it to go as we were enjoying the sledging in the field called the hills and hollows in our village - now I just want the fields to be green again and the roads to be clear so that I can enjoy getting out and actually driving (I don't do icy roads any more). But I digress.
What showed up so beautifully in the Dale was the glorious bare trees. Their black shiny trunks and branches look starkly beautiful against a white background. What would we do without them?
I remembered something about trees in Ronald Blythe's "Borderland", so when I came back into the farmhouse I looked it up.
Trees are without doubt the largest living things in the world. When you think that each one has grown from a tiny seed, and often taken a few hundred years to get to its majestic phase, one can only marvel at the spectacle.
What Blythe does in his book is to make you think at a deeper level about them. He says, for instance, that when they come into leaf in the Spring they are always young again, but that when they are bare in Winter they show their old battle scars - the broken limbs, the torn off branch scars - he cleverly likens them to wounds under the bright uniforms of old naval officers in the Napoleonic wars, which is very apt when he speaks of the oak trees and how they were felled to make the ships for Nelson's navy before the great battles at sea. He suggests that most oaks we see were planted around 1800, as their predecessors would have been felled in the great forest sweep that was made at the time. It reminded me of the iron railings which we also melted down for munitions at the start of the Second World War.
We tend to take our trees forgranted, but apart from the fact that they provide us with wood for furniture, cricket bats, logs for the fire, with their fallen branches, they also provide homes for a million small creatures and wonderful perches for our song birds.
Last Spring we were in New York State as the trees were coming into leaf and we marvelled at the sight of so many different greens and yellows - at the sight which we felt probably equalled the sight of New England in the Fall (which I must say we have not seen). But I must say that, on balance, I think I probably get more pleasure from the bare trees as they stand out in Winter. I particularly like them against a back drop of ploughed fields.
Are you a tree lover? How do you like your trees? Have you a favourite one?

23 comments:

Textile Art Showcase said...

You have really made me think Weaver. I love trees and am forever taking photographs of bark and bare branches. I love the patterns and shapes that are created by the branches. Which is my favourite? I have too many - I love to see magnolias when then are in bloom, almond and plum blossom (we have seen in China many times) and a new tree in our garden - a white beam - it has stunning leaves from Spring through to late Autumn and then lovely big red sticky buds in the winter!

willow said...

Oh yes-yes-yes, I'm a tree lover, too. And although I enjoy trees in all their various leafy stages, I like mine best with bare, snow covered branches against a gray sky.

Elisabeth said...

My favorite trees from childhood, even here in Australia where I should love our natives, the eucalyptus and the like, I still prefer the Lombardy poplars.

I love them for their majesty. As a child I liked to lie on the ground beneath these trees and look up the length of those magnificent and tall trunks, that to me was majesty.

Helsie said...

Yes Weaver that poem is familiar to me. I learnt it at school and I am , like you , a lover of trees.
My favourite tree? Take a look at these two posts that I have written about my favoutite trees:

http://helsieshappenings.blogspot.com/2009_11_01_archive.html

on November 8th and November 27th

Cheers
Helen

Arija said...

Deciduous trees bare their very souls in winter when you see their very skeletons which they shyly hide again in spring.
I love all trees but the Australian Huon Pine is the most awe inspiring. Some of them are over a thousand years old and overcovered with moss. They grow in the great Tasmanian rain forest and unfortunately our government in their 'wisdom' allow old growth forest to be clear felled for Japanese toilet paper. You have to wonder where they keep their brains.
The oak is still my all time favourite.

ArtPropelled said...

I love trees too! Maples, Ancient Oaks, Willows and Fever Trees. A Maple tree in Autumn is a sight to behold. I love the yellow green bark of Fever trees and the magestic Oak I love all the year round.

Golden West said...

My favorite tree is the ginkgo I planted here at home 32 years ago. It marks the passage of time with a cascade of golden yellow leaves every autumn and the brightest of green leaves come spring. Right now it stands bare, silhouetted against the sky, taller and grander than anything else in the garden - a favorite perch for all manner of birds, most especially the hummingbirds.

Granny Sue said...

I had never heard that saying about snow, but how true it is. Our old snow from last week is still on the ground in shaded spots and this morning we have a new covering, with more expected this week. The old wives knew whereof they spoke!

Trees-I love them. We have so many varieties in West Virginia, each with individual characteristics. Like the sassafras with its oily, scented roots and mitton leaves, hop hornbeam with its hops-like bloom, the maples with their fiery colors and of course the stately oaks-red, white, chestnut, pin, black, etc. One of my winter favorites is the sycamore because when all is gray the white patches on the trunks are startling.

steven said...

hello weaver - i'm a real admirer of trees for all the reasons you mention. they are like microcosms of the world. every stage they pass through in a year carries its own beauty. i favour the autumn but there's some beauty in their stark outline against a winter sky that's for sure. have a lovely day in the dale. steven

Dave King said...

Obviously, I am of a certain age, for instinctively I supplied the line. I don't have a favourite tree, but all trees wow me. I think them mysterious and as lovely as the greatest poetry.

Cathy said...

Joyce Kilmer. It's a beautiful poem and from a man who gave his life for peace. I love trees. I take more photos of the trees around our property than I do our children. Every season is a new "dress". My favorite used to be the maple but now I love the hickory. We have so many of these tall trees surrounding us and I've been watching them "dance" in the wind the last few days. I feel so peaceful watching them.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I love trees through all the seasons, in all their various beauties. Most species have their particular lovely aspects too, so i can't pick a favourite...

Our snow has frozen and has become most stubborn....

The Solitary Walker said...

I supplied the next line too. But for the life of me I can't think who wrote it. ('A certain age'... A certain memory loss?)

My favourite tree is quite definitely the oak - with all its connotations of ancientness and English history and myth - and I love walking through oakwoods (an increasingly rare experience).

Leenie said...

Thanks for the reminder of appreciation for our trees. The world would be a stark, bland place without them.

I read somewhere that there is a stand of quaking aspen in Colorado which is so large and physically connected one to another by the roots that it is considered the largest living organism on earth. Quakies have a whispering voice and their fall colors are gold. Which makes the coin-shaped leaves look like money falling from the sky.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

If you are of a certain age, your response to this title will be to supply the next line:-
A poem lovely as a tree!

I knew that! I knew that! I am a tree lover as well. A large Oak, a redbud when it blooms, a willow in the wind. One of my favorite sounds? The breeze rustling the leaves in the branches overhead.

Happy New Year, Weaver.

Phoenix C. said...

I love all trees, at any time of year! To walk through woods is one of my favourite experiences and is always uplifting and inspiring.

Some of my very favourite specific trees are a row of Himalayan Birch trees at the Botanic Garden in Durham. I love the subtle colours on their trunks. And I love Prunus cerrula when the early summer light shines through the red-orange papery edging of the bark, looking like ethereal fire!

And yes, winter trees are so beautiful - and their bare branches allow one to glimpse the roll of the land behond.

Heather said...

I know that quotation and the old weather lore saying about snow. We are warned of some overnight and I was just enjoying seeing everything green again! I love trees and would hate to live in a landscape without them. I have an entire scrapbook of photos of trees, their bark and wonderful gnarled roots. I can't say I have a favourite but love to see them in winter against a beautiful sunset or with the moon shining through the branches. Then in spring, seeing sunlight shining through new beech leaves, or an orchard in full bloom. I could go on.

Totalfeckineejit said...

A lovely eulogy to trees,Weaver,they are wonderful things in many ways.I'm with you on the beauty of the bare tree, they make magnificent moonlit silhouettes too.Fave would have to be the oak, I really like the shape of the leaves.

dinesh chandra said...

Your writing about tree shows your love towards every living things such trees, animals, and human beings. I also love tree the log log pine trees.

Regards

Dinesh Chandra

Studio Sylvia said...

We have a few Michaelia Doltsopas in our garden. They are from the Magnolia family. Their blooms, a velvety white with a bold centre of yellow/orange, are the size of bread and butter plates and have the most beautiful perfume, especially towards the end of the day. They are a very tall tree that provide shelter from the blistering sun on our very hot days. I have a lovely, white, lace hydrangea that thrives at the base, in the shadow, of one of these Michaelias. Last summer these trees were badly burnt but they have revived remarkably well.

DJ said...

One of the most disturbing sights I've seen is a new "tract" house on a newly cleared plot with no trees around it...

The Weaver of Grass said...

It is good that we all love trees so much and isn't it interesting to read what people have as their favourite - some of the trees I have never heard of. GW;s gingko with humming birds sounds so exotic doesn't it? It is worth reading through all the comments to get these lovely word pictures of trees. Aspens are mentioned too and remind me of:
willow whiten, aspens quiver,
little breezes dart and shiver.
There are some lovely comments - thank you all so much. And i am glad to see how well our English oak fares in your favourites.

BT said...

Funnily enough, Weaver, I was looking at the alder trees at the side of the road as we queued in the traffic to get to the shops. I love alder, they tolerate the awful wet here and keep their catkins and little fruits year round. I also love the bare silver birch with their glistening trunks and thin twigs at the tops of each tree. I am a real tree fan and always have been.