Wednesday, May 10, 2006

My Brother's Trees

Yesterday would have been my brother Huw's birthday so I went to visit the trees planted in his memory.

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.


Blogger Lee said...

If I hadn't already purchased Wegener's Jigsaw to read soon, this post would have convinced me to do so.

Wed May 10, 06:52:00 pm  
Blogger Jonathan Wonham said...

Looks like a nice place to return to.

Wed May 10, 07:50:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this description of your walk. I was in Cheshire about 15 years ago. My first husband died when he was 35 and he has a tree, a sweet gum, planted in his memory. The tag says "friend, botanist, teacher, father." I love the spelling of Huw--it must be Welse? I am used to Hugh. I loved seeing the photos along with the text.

Wed May 10, 08:09:00 pm  
Blogger Martin Kirk said...

What a beautiful place--you'll be surprised how quickly a silver birch grows. You've chosen a good tree, it will have grace and form which will be befitting.

Thu May 11, 02:05:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for all the kind remarks. It is a beautiful place - peaceful, good for remembering people.

Martin: I am glad to hear that the silver birch grows quickly. It will be good to see a proper tree.

Elizabeth: I think the tag on your first husband's tree is touching - just four words but they tell so much. And yes, Huw is Welsh. I like that spelling too.

Thu May 11, 07:26:00 pm  
Blogger Kay Cooke said...

Hi Clare - I am sorry that your brother died. It will help to visit the tree every year. I loved the post with its beautiful descriptions and photos. I'm glad it was such a special time for you. What a beautiful spot.

Fri May 12, 12:24:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clare, life moves on with the clear imprint on memory from those we have loved. We see our dearly departed in so many ways - the odd word or phrase; the odd smell; the odd sight; the odd feeling. They want us to feel each thing, to be part of the living world. For that is where we are, and to not make the most of all of it that exists is a crime.

We all need to love life. That is not a crime but a basic sense of life & wellbeing.

the crimeficreader

Fri May 12, 11:57:00 pm  

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