Life’s a Beech

The extended process of leaf fall continues. For a month or more the garden Oaks have bedecked the perimeter in burnt gold. Islands of green make the finery especially eye-catching. The Acers are almost finished and the Ash already stands bare, revealing its mistletoe. The Beech and the Poplars have turned too. The Field Maple is a bright greenish yellow, shining out against the backdrop of the wood behind our fence.

Three weeks ago we felled a poplar. The frequency with which it was dropping heavy limbs was becoming dangerous. So the lower trunk now lies awaiting what nature will. The upper trunk lies cut into rings. Some are going to be turned into tabletops. Others will be split and stored. The leaves go to leaf mould. The branches went to chippings and mulch. Nothing has been wasted.

My interest in leaf mines continues. I spend a lot of time staring down my ageing microscope. This has brought me into a closer relationship with trees than ever before.

After the big blow of Storm Angus the garden is covered in leaves; the impossible jigsaw, more pieces than space and no blue sky to start us off. Suddenly the Ash is reaching up, gnarled fingers like Sadequain, bare, arthritic and up-pointed. I fishnet the pond clear, a daily chore I welcome. As I walk out I gaze upwards and check the treetops for life. Then round the bushes, snapping my eyes across to any bird chatter. The rattling Mistle Thrush, the seeping Treecreeper and the Firecrests, my annual hearing test that I celebrate passing one more time. A Grey Wagtail struts across the leafy lawn, picking at mid-morning dim sum.

Inside the logs burn hot and the dog inspects my work, nuzzling against my legs as I sit on the wooden floor, feeding the flames with another log of Cherry. The curtains are closed, and darkness is shut out. The only glow is the twin tubes of a moth trap, destined to catch nothing most nights. The night is long now and Spring seems far away. Slowly the garden shuts down. These are the nights for reading and thinking. The planning horizon shortens a little each year but long after I have passed to ashes and dust the Oak, the Beech and the Ash will grace the landscape. I cannot live without trees but the trees can live without me.


29 thoughts on “Life’s a Beech

  1. Good to see you back in fine poetic form. Glad to hear the poplar is living on in half a dozen different states. Trees are very good for the global perspective. We attended a lecture on the subject recently and I was amazed by the age of individual veterans, they made nothing of centuries of our history that feel so significant to us.

    • I was sent a book a while ago that features the world’s oldest trees. It’s wonderful how they put us in perspective. On the other hand clearing the leaves is a never ending chore at present. I will have enough leaf mold to export soon. Tariff free of course. This was my third go at a blog post in recent weeks but the others, including the Venice disaster, never made it to press. One day maybe.

  2. It’s nice to see you in WP and I really enjoyed reading how the garden has changed with the Fall weather. Wonderful descriptive wording which allows me to visualize how it must look.

    There has been virtually no Fall here in Cen-Tex. The trees still have most of their leaves, the grass is green and, there are only a few of the northern migrants that usually frequent my yard.

  3. Welcome back “all downhill from here”. Angus was quite a storm and we got clobbered all day Monday as well. The garden was struggling to absorb the rain but managed, just, so no sandbags needed.

  4. Here it’s the opposite. All the trees are flourishing and covered in new growth. Our streets are lined with Jacaranda trees covered with purple blooms. They’re so beautiful. Enjoy your wintery evenings.

  5. We’ve lost all of our leaves now, aside from the pears… they are just turning. Our Temps have finally realized the late date in the month. Last week it was 70F. Winter is upon us.
    Hope you have been well! Miss you in the reader…

      • I had a head cold last month that lasted a week. My nose ran so much, I turned into a human raisin! Sick sucks! Glad to hear you’re recovering 😊

  6. We share an appreciation, awe…and occasional frustration for trees, Andrew. One of our favorites–an Ornamental Plus we had planted when our granddaughter was born 13 years ago –was an amazing seasonal-change tree we treasured. Three months ago one entire side suddenly dropped its leaves and went brittle, the branch extensions curling and breaking off. When we dug it out–and it took some deep digging because of a fungus in the roots–it was a sad afternoon.

    • That is sad Marylin. We also lost an apple tree as collateral damage when the Poplar came down. We have already planted a replacement but it will take some time to establish itself. No plums in our garden but plenty of Cherry trees.

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