Saturday 25 September 2010

These are a Few of my Favourite Things: Trees

What?!  The sun's shining, the autumn breeze is wafting through the gold and red leaves... and I LOVE TREES.  What's not to love?  They are beautiful and ageless, strong and vibrant.  And those brilliant greens and soft olives melting into the horizon are surely a sight to life the soul and brighten the spirits.  Whether it's a wistful weeping willow or an ancient oak, a giant fir or a cherry in full blossom, there is something special about a tree.

I live on a hillside just below a beautiful wood.  When I first came home from university with agoraphobia, when I could hardly leave my own front door for fear of something dreadful happening, trees played a huge part in starting me on the path to recovery.  On the first day, I went out into our garden.  I took photographs of the eucalyptus tree and the flowers, and stood at the gate staring out over the valley, at the great trees reaching towards the sky and the woods sweeping away over the far hillsides.  On the second day, I went down through the gate into our field, down to the orchard, where the fruit trees were in blossom and the grass grew thickly around their roots.  The next logical step was the woods.

Over the next few weeks I started walking up into the woods, starting with my favourite five-minute 'taking a breather' route and gradually exploring further afield.  I discovered the quarry face with its giant tumbled boulders, and peered down through the trees into the valley below.  I wandered up past the fir plantation and into the darker, damper woods on the other side of the hillside, listening to the stream splashing unseen far down the steep slopes.  I walked up the steep hill past the fruit farm and gazed out across the open fields.

And whenever I started to feel panicky or afraid, it was the trees that brought me back.  Walking through the woods, gazing up through the branches, I could feel history whispering all around me.  The trees are tall and strong.  They have seen countless people wandering beneath their boughs, just as I did; houses being built across the valley; generations of people coming and going.  They've seen it all, and they've never wavered, never fallen.  Those people are gone and forgotten now.  And this thought made me feel so small, and somehow safe and protected, that my fears were soothed and my heart felt lighter.  I stopped to photograph the avenues and the leaves, and I felt calm again.

I don't think I'll ever lose that sense of magic and hope, or that feeling of timeless safety.  And THAT'S why I love trees.

Note: All photos except the top one - the tree on the strip of grass - are mine.