Friday 4 May 2012

Trees at Home

Trees are always at home, wherever they are. Even though often we are not. Wherever I've spent time trees have shaped and informed my experience, whether for a few nights in a tropical Colombian river town, a season in a ramshackle miner's cottage in a high desert town of southeastern Arizona or the decade I've now lived in Suffolk. And now I think about it, it seems to be because of that quality of being-at-homeness that trees possess.

With all my human restlessness and running around, trees seem to be saying, hold on, slow down, wait (at least) a minute, stay awhile, take root, connect with where you are, with the planet, with life. Come home.

Hotel built around a giant Fig tree, Mompos, Northern Colombia where I stayed on a journey through South America in 1992.

(Above and Below) Life in the shade of the great Cottonwood, Bisbee, Arizona, 1996. Sometimes, as the summer heat surged to temparatures well over a hundred degrees, you really felt life was only possible under that awesome shade.

The Cottonwood is a close relative of the Black Poplar native to Britain and indeed East Anglia. As I write, the local black poplars seem more red-golden this year than I've ever seen them as they come into leaf. This is a picture from 2010:

Something about poplars and their relatives, willows, just makes you want to stand with them and look up. This goat willow in bloom near the Suffolk coast in Spring 2010 was full of golden catkins and the buzzing of bumblebees.

Like Jon, I feel an affinity with oaks. Their solidity and presence. When I sit beneath one I've made particular friends with, the whole world, which may have seemed frazzled and tattered a few minutes before, can start to make sense again within its vast stillness.

Coming home to where I am now. These two apple trees, a Katy and a James Grieve, were dug up last year from an orchard near Bungay and taken to Gemma's parents near Flixton, before making the trip to us in Reydon. These Transition trees, photographed this morning, are doing very well indeed despite their bumpy ride.

Mighty oaks from little acorns and all that. I planted some acorns from a favourite oak last year in the conservatory and forgot about them until I discovered this seedling a few days ago. Where will it be in twenty years and how big? I could ask the same question of myself today as I turn 50.


  1. Happy 50th Birthday Mark! Maybe we can plant a commemorative tree?

  2. Happy Birthday. I agree - we need a commemorative tree! Would suggest sweet chestnut or olive, if we're thinking long term...