By Bruce Parry
It’s when I went off track across a wild bit that I found a full size walnut tree…just on its own, not with others, just on its own…just there in the middle…on its own standing proud, surrounded by other trees…trees you find in the woods.
How did it get there, when did it germinate, this is a big tree laden with autumn walnuts, how old we can only guess? Did people live nearby, once upon a time…in an old cottage or shack perhaps where nature hid its foundations? Where leaves and leaf mould piled up and crumbled everything to dust…where nature finally won and now it’s just this tree with no clues?
I call it planting nature…the apple core that gets thrown from a train window, it rolls and jumps down the embankment with its pips falling away to be buried in the rain and mud…and one finally grows, tiny and struggling. Thousands and thousands of trains will pass by and the one core that was thrown will grow. Those rosy reds that we look down at from the train will drop to the ground…how did those apple trees get there…down there on the windswept embankment, where nobody can get to?
I do it all the time now, I hope every apricot stone I throw into the river will travel to remote places and self germinate in perfect mud or silt miles and miles away…other people will wonder how that apricot tree got to the edge of the woods, after all those years…growing quietly surrounded by other trees, trees you find in the woods.
I came across a huge damson tree hanging over a canal…branches almost snapping with the weight of damsons which were fed and fed from the water, from the silt and mud. Did a damson stone land here from holiday boaters on the canal coming from London and beyond…a kilo of damson stones thrown into the water, all travelling down river to find their place to grow…the cherry stones, peaches, greengages and more, all travelling to plant nature… surrounded by other trees, trees you find in the woods.
The abandoned tramway, where Sunday school picnics threw apple and pear cores into the woodland…where birds pecked and carried pips from tree to tree, depositing them in manure where they grew beyond Sunday school lives, beyond the tramway, way past years that closed villages. And they thrived…on the edge, in the woods, behind old walls. Where cottages stood called Mulberry and Cherry Tree, Hazel and Appleby…and the children waved from the trams, where they were given fruit for the picnic from ancient cottage gardens, surrounded by other trees…trees you find in the woods.
Inspiration: I was greatly inspired to write this piece by cycling and walking through woodland and finding self growing fruit trees from long ago in abandoned places. The thrill of cycling the old tramway made me think about Sunday school outings in the past and how nature prevails and grows again from discarded picnic fruit.
Pens of the Earth is about environmental tales from a positive Portsmouth – encouraging writers to celebrate existing environmental initiatives, and to imagine what might be. This year, we will also be supporting two charities, one global, one local. Help us to support our global reforestation charity Tree Sisters and plant 2,000 trees by March 2021.
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