Monthly Musing – September 2023 – Trees
One of the fields near our house where I walk the dog has a new owner. I know this because I remember the fields being up for sale, and the farmer who used to be the tenant of those fields told me that their tenancy was up a few days ago when I messaged her to ask if they were the ones driving a large orange digger and whether they were looking for buried treasure.
There’s no buried treasure – or not so far. It turns out that the new farmer is digging up a small copse of trees that’s been in the middle of the fields for as long as we’ve lived in Winwick and by the look of the trees, even longer than that. The orange digger has started ripping them out one by one, and I expect that it won’t be long before there’s a space that will be ploughed and productive instead of a home to birds and animals.
I’m not daft, I know that it’s a tough life for farmers and this is wasted space in economic terms, but I am sad to see the shape of the landscape changing when it has taken so long to grow to the shape that it is. I know that I’m not alone in feeling like this when you see the outpouring of grief for the Sycamore Gap tree on Hadrian’s Wall which was cut down in an act of vandalism this week. We grow used to the shape of our landscapes and trees give us a connection between the past and the present – and even the future as trees we plant today will be here long after we’ve gone.
The tree at Sycamore Gap was over 300 years old – it’s been alive through kings’ and queens’ lifetimes, through conflicts and peace times, since before steam trains and jet engines, bombs and computers. It’s no wonder that people are mourning its loss.
I’m not sure that the trees in the Winwick field are that old but they’ll have grown through plenty of historical events themselves, and yet generations of families growing up in Winwick will have passed them every day and probably never given them a second glance. That’s how it is, often, isn’t it? We don’t notice something until it’s gone.
There’s nothing I can do about the trees in the copse. I don’t own the fields, I don’t know the farmer and even if I did, it’s not my business to ask them to adjust theirs to fit around some trees. I can make sure that the trees in our own garden are well looked after, though, and can provide a home for wildlife. Plants and trees grow and sometimes need to be moved, but we can always plant more in another spot where they can be left to thrive. We can shape our own little bit of landscape and leave a leafy legacy for the future, and we don’t have to wait. We can plant more trees any time we want to – and maybe we should.