Hello everybody, the last couple of months have been eventful in the virus sense but also quite boring for a lot of people!
The lockdown has, however, caused a huge increase in wildlife across our part of Europe: basking sharks off the west coast of Ireland, orcas in Scottish harbours. A pheasant has even hatched fledglings in our field, and on RTÉ news there have been reports of farmers befriending fox cubs.
Though most of our blogs are on more general subjects, today I am writing an autobiographical piece about my experiences with special trees. Part two will be posted soon. I hope it entertains you!
The Willow Trees
When we moved to Ireland six years ago, most of our garden was a tangle of old brambles and nettles. We spent a long time clearing it, and when it was done there were barely any trees uncovered. Just three willow trees, fairly large, swayed in the now-open space.
One of these trees I loved at first sight. It was sturdy and, though not very tall, had a quantity of wiggling branches that spread, so it seemed to me, for miles.
The trunk of the tree was in reality only a metre and a half tall, but I was only six years old at the time, and it seemed very tall indeed. It was also straight for that metre and a half, until I forked out, so it was very hard to climb at the time.
However, I was determined to climb it, because once I was up there, I was sure, I could do any manner of things in its branches. One was long and flat- the perfect seat.
I jumped and scrabbled at it for a while, and at last perfected the technique of shinning up and squeezing through. Soon it became my favourite domain. My parents were too big and my brother too small to climb it. I was very proud of how high I could climb in its fractal branches.
It gave me great pleasure to swing down from a handy branch exactly, I imagined, as Tarzan would. I spent long hours reading and playing nests there.
Years later, my brother learnt to climb it too, and we built a special rope ladder to aid us in that purpose.
One of the other three trees, meanwhile, was built of two small trunks and one big one. One day, in a terrific storm, the big branch crashed down to land over the pond. We were horrified. The tree was split in half! It would surely die.
But it didn’t. Somehow it stayed alive, even the fallen over branch. Perhaps the other willow trees around it sent it nutrients, as trees often to do to help each other in need. An important lesson to be learnt from them, especially for now!
The tree actually fell on an old bicycle standing next to it. One of the rusty iron handle bars- and I wince to think of it- pierced the base of the branch, impossible to remove. Now, though, the tree has enveloped it. The bike is part of the tree. The tree also provides welcome shelter to our little pond.
The Oak Trees
The part of the garden that we had cleared of brambles only had three trees, so that would never do! We ordered many different kinds of saplings to plant there.
One day, me and Jeevan were told to pick one special sapling each, that we would plant and care for. Jeevan chose a Scots pine, one of the rare species of coniferous tree native to Ireland and the UK. I chose an oak.
I planted my oak by the hedge behind the willow tree that fell over, putting it in a glade so it would have lots of room to grow. When I planted it, it was just up to my knee… now it is six foot tall!
Another memorable oak tree I know, we found one day when walking to the bottom of the neighbour’s field, down a muddy lane and into the field after that. It was a way to get to a lovely river, one lonely oak stretching its branches to the sky. There were no other trees around apart from the ones in the faraway hedges, and I felt sorry for it because trees are sociable creatures and like to communicate by sending pulses and scents through fungi networks in the soil.
We like to visit it in autumn, to collect and dry the fallen leaves and pick up oak apples, made by little wasps.
The oak apples they show you are from America though, they are usually smaller in Ireland! And an oak apple is a type of oak gall, of which there are many more.)
Thank you for reading. Please let us know what you thought of this on facebook. Stay safe.
Look out for part two, The Sycamore Trees and The Chestnut Trees!