My Brother's Trees
Dutton is a pretty place - there are large old brick houses called coy names like 'lodge' and 'cottage' suggesting smallness but so grand they are guarded by high walls and security gates with intercoms. It was quiet. The sun shone through haze. I followed the instructions from the Woodland Trust through a field of inquisitive young cows who came over to investigate me, then over another stile to the trees. The trees were, of course, very young, just saplings a couple of feet high: roses, hawthorn, rowan, beech and birch in rows protected by tubes of polythene. The ones dedicated to my brother are unmarked so I chose one that I have decided is Huw's tree - a silver birch. I am going to come back to it every year on his birthday to see how it is getting along. For a time I sat on another stile trying to draw all that I could see but I couldn't. It seemed too difficult. I looked at the paper with my marks in pencil and charcoal and it looked like nothing, just twigs sprouting from the ground, so I gave up.
I walked and took photos instead - through the saplings to an established wood. It is a beautiful time of year to go walking through a wood in Cheshire right now: there are banks of bluebells, quite intensely coloured to the naked eye, and then banks of white flowers, and of course there are the smells: garlic, a heavy smell of some blossom I couldn't identify, and that mouldy, peaty smell of the wood. The sun shone through the branches, lighting the ground in strips - light green, yellow, dark green, brown - and I thought no one could be unhappy on a day like this.
I walked along the canal at the side of the wood and a narrow boat went past disturbing the swans who glided away unperturbed, and a group of mallards who made more fuss.
I examined this year's ducklings, making panicked little skids along the water,
and the feathers of a nearly adult swan.
I exchanged greetings with a couple of joggers and sat on a bench and watched the water
and a gorse that looked as if it had caught fire at the water's edge.
Then I looked again at Huw's tree wondering how it would be when I come back again next year - more branches, more leaves, and the small animals using it for cover - a small world becoming larger.