The Stories of Trees: Hazel
Trees. How different the undulating landscape of Hampshire would look without their majestic, towering presence upon the backdrop of the countryside. There is a source of life that exists beside our own, living within the branches and even inside the bark of the tree itself. Birds call them home. Insects their habitat. Wildlife, their shelter and food supply.
But as for us, what do trees really bring to us other than natural beauty and the oxygen that creates our atmosphere? What is it about this giant of the countryside that inspires, welcomes, restores and beckons adventure?
There is one tree which stands, noticeably, a short distance from the meadow river bank. Its leaves dance like bunting hanging from ribbon at a country party, and its stooping, arched branches hang low, creating a tunnel to walk through. A canopy, imploring you to wander beneath it and venture to the river beyond, for a paddle. The wedding arch, as it is fondly known, seems to bloom and grow more captivating each spring and summer. It has been the site of picnics with hay bales to perch on, photographs to capture the little joys of summer moments, and a resting spot offering shade and comfort from raging weather, be it heat or rainstorms. It has also been the signature mark of the changing seasons and in its quiet, welcoming way has offered its sweeping canopy as a place to stand awhile and simply think.
If you look back from the meadow gate, your eyes fall to this peculiar shaped tree, with its unkempt edges and rustic charm. How can one tree grow to mean so much within a place? How can its presence be something you look forward to greeting each day? Without it, would the river still look so pleasing to investigate and explore? Would the meadow feel a little forlorn?
Maybe, in a world where change is upon us every day, the landscape and its historical landmark of trees, offers us a sense of comfort. To withstand a storm and each changing season, to remain steadfast amidst our fast paced life. The tree does not go anywhere but literally remains grounded and rooted to its spot, seeing life move around us, as if it were watching a slideshow through the times. Trees were here long before us and will remain long after we're gone. They exist beside us and even if they are brought down, their stump still sits in remembrance of what once was. I'm not sure how long our faithful wedding arch has graced the meadow. When it was planted, who planted it, how it came to be, remains a mystery. It has flourished in its place beside the river for all to see, and all marvel at its beautiful shape and stooping branches. There is something so good and worthwhile here. Instinctively, you just feel it.
To some it may look like just any other tree, but to me, it is a significant focus of nature's beauty in our ever changing meadow. The wildflowers fade away, the grass is lost in the winter months ahead, yet despite the departure of its leaves, our radiant wedding arch prevails. Unmoved. Its shape unchanged. Simply present in its secure place beside the river bank. I wonder how many people and animals alike have taken shelter beneath it. I wonder if they felt as grateful for its presence as I do.
Our old and wise Hazel tree, thank you for being there.