New Year: new… tree

Happy New Year!

Herewith a tale of new beginnings:

Ages and ages ago we bought a living Christmas tree.

After it had done its time indoors we put it outside. But it quickly ran into trouble.

No, I don’t mean it attracted the wrath of the local posse of fruit trees –

“You’re not from round ‘ere are you?”

“No. Norway actually hey what’s with the strimmer..?”

Rather, unbeknown to us green buyers of such things, living Christmas trees come in two varieties:

  • Grown in a pot and sold ‘undisturbed’
  • Grown in the ground, harvested and shoved into a pot.

Ours, it seemed was of the latter, ‘disturbed’ kind. It had had its roots severed in order to fit in the pot and, by the following December, showed signs of struggling.

It looked too sad to use for decoration. But the local nature reserve have a special area dedicated to retired Christmas trees (they really do!) so we made up our minds to take it there and plant it out.

The middle of winter is the best time.

But each year midwinter came and went, then new year, then the February Cold Spell, and then spring would put an end to it.

Each summer the poor tree had looked more and more forlorn, its lower branches losing their needles and the baldness progressing upwards. The top, though, fought on and even produced cones – probably out of desperation.

However… <drum-roll please>

This year I had a better idea: a home for the tree which would be easier to reach than the Nature Reserve. This one wouldn’t require the drive across town: only a leisurely cycle ride to the ‘path to The Planets’ (upon which, if you scale up your cycling speed to the real solar system, you end up travelling faster than light, thus arriving home before you set out) – easy.

The mild weather this New Year has made all sorts of resolutions easier – well, less arduous at least – to carry out. There are more joggers on the river path than a normal first week of January would bring, for example. I have finally fixed the light in the garage. And having put it off for months, we’d got the bike trailer up and running.

We headed off with the tree in the trailer, its roots and earth wrapped in a carrier-bag.

The cycle-path is a former railway: flat, and easy to ride.

We carried on, past farmers’ bare fields towards a shock of red sunset under moody clouds, until we spotted mixed woodland: not just broadleaf. We didn’t want the tree standing out too much: someone might ‘manage’ the land there, and deem it out-of-place.

We turned and bounced down the muddy path, into the trees.

There’s a sound the wind makes in bare winter trees that has no word. It’s not a whisper or rustle, like leaves in summer. The proper term ‘Psithurism’ requires leaves (or at least needles).

It’s not a roar: it’s too gentle; not a rush because it has no beginning or end.

It just is.

We found a spot for the tree.

I have few regrets in life, but one of these is that I didn’t get this done earlier.

The soil wasn’t hard to dig. We’d brought water, and root-food. I remembered to disentangle some of the roots, so they’d know where to go.

I wonder if a tree can feel that it might soon be on the mend: that it now stands a chance.

I almost daren’t check up on it in time, in case I’d already left it too late.

But a practical friend pointed out it would need watering.


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