I’m writing this post for two reasons. Firstly, as my poor blog has suddenly encountered major problems – most of my dashboard buttons have completely disappeared, I can’t access any of my media files, have problems attaching tags, saving, and the widgets in my dashboard have decided to poke out from their home, obscuring anything underneath, and I’m not even remotely clued up enough to work out what’s gone wrong. So, I’m not even sure if I can post anymore, but here goes! The second reason, is just to share with my lovely visitors.
As Britain braces itself for one of the largest storms to hit us in a few years, the St Jude’s Day storm as it’s been named, with hurricane force winds, I find myself trying to ‘batten down the hatches’. The West Country where I live, is supposed to be hit first and hardest, as the winds get funnelled up the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary, so we are watching the skies with some anxiety.
Despite this being easily the toughest year of my life, due to illness, I know I’m also a very lucky girl. Our garden, a beautiful oasis of two acres is such a delight, full of wildlife of every variety and a constantly changing palette of colours.
A previous owner many years ago, was an ornithologist, and his love of nature is the reason we have our beautiful pond, all our bird boxes from tiny blue tits to the huge nesting ravens and the wealth of bird and wildlife that we have. Herons, buzzards, kingfishers, wrens, pheasants, wild Mallard ducks, even a Mandarin duck that flies in from time to time, the moorhens that live and breed here all year round, Green and Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, song thrushes, owls, gold finches, bull finches, the threatened tree and house sparrows, house martins, swifts and swallows, badgers, water voles, frogs, two species of dragonfly, hedgehogs, foxes, rabbits, and a host of squirrels and other creatures.
Truly a marvel for any nature freak like me.
There is nothing better than watching a cloud of butterflies on a hot summer’s day, watching the Black Darters and emerald Emperor dragonflies skit over the water, or the elusive blue flash of the exotic looking kingfisher flying along the river that runs along one side of our garden, or the Green Woodpeckers with their grown up chicks busy on the lawn ‘anting’ (prodding their beaks into the soil to gather ants).
But within our garden are easily a hundred trees, small specimen trees like the acers, viburnum, crab-apple and hanker-chief tree, but also huge colossal monoliths, willows, white popular, oak, elm, spruce, firs, cherry, hornbeam, rowan, maple, lime and ash. And with large trees, comes the worry of them falling in high winds!
Already we’ve had our ‘go to tree guy’, a lovely rosy cheeked chap called, Nobby, yes that is his name, come over to have a look at the trees. We have at least three which are in trouble and may not make it through tonight, one rather closer to the house than I’m happy about. We may also have in one of our ash trees, that dreaded insidious disease, Ash Die-Back, that has threatened to wipe out ash trees across the country, much like Dutch Elm disease left most of our countryside bereft of elm trees.
So, apart from turning tables over and bringing in chairs, pots and anything that could become a flying missile in the next few hours, we have also been nervously watching the trees around us, as the winds continue to build and the power lines sway wildly outside.
All this uncertainty and chaos though, has me pondering. As we all know, the glorious shades of Autumn are also the opening overture for Winter, the winding down of things, the season of stillness and dark and a time of great thrift for nature after the bountiful feast of summer. The swallows have gone, the butterflies too, though I still see the odd one sipping drunkenly from the harvest of fallen apples. But for me, though the garden is a riot of colour and I do appreciate the breath-taking beauty of Autumn woodland walks, the changing colours are just a reminder of death, each tree trying to shed its mantle just to survive the dark months to come.
Yes, there is magic in every season, in the snow and hoarfrosts of Winter, the beauty of a winter’s misty dawn above the fields, but I still mourn the sun and the hum of life that comes with it.
And so, as these high wild winds batter our windows, unsettling the dogs, I find myself not worrying about any damage to us, the house, the cars, the pergola. No, I find myself thinking about those poor trees, the ones that may not survive the onslaught tonight. Each one at least two hundred years old. How many winters, how storms have they endured? How many years have they stretched and thrived in our ever-variable climate? How many changes to the countryside around them? Roads, houses, hedgerows, where once only forest and brook remained.
So, I for one am keeping my fingers crossed for the storms, that it doesn’t take too many of our nation’s trees, too many of our great leviathans as it did in the worst hurricanes of 1987 when even mighty thousand year old guardians fell in its wake.
Keep safe guys, and let me know how the storm has affected you.