'The wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more'
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Apologies for using a quote to start the blog two days in a row - I promise I won't make a habit of it. I'll explain why I've used it.
I started the day feeling very glum. A deep grey scum of cloud had seeped over the star-clear sky I'd gone to bed by. It was so dark that the street lights were still on at 9.30am. In defiance I dug the last of the parsnips out of our veg patch in the half-light, determined not to be cowed into staying indoors by the gloom, but it was dour work.
By dog-walking time the murk had lifted slightly, but the great tits that were singing so optimistically in yesterday's sun were still taking a rain check. I needed another prop to get me through the day - and give me something to write about. That's when I remembered reading the Emerson quote, and I went out to look at trees. Here's what I saw:
Tiny lavender-purple catkins on the birches - tight, smooth-scaled like reptile skin;
Pale, dove-grey, frondy lichens on the bare branches of the willows by the river;
Sooty-black buds on the ash tree above the old quarry, whose gnarled root looks like an elephant's trunk.
There was a lot of other stuff I usually take for granted that I noticed too - crimson bramble shoots twining across the rotting bracken; wood sedge, water avens, and violet leaves still green and alive; new growth on the wild honeysuckle. Desperation definitely concentrates the mind! By the time I got home both the cloud, and my mood, had lifted significantly. So thanks, Ralph, for helping me get through the day.