Saturday, January 20, 2007


As everyone knows by now, it got a bit breezy from Wednesday night for about a day or so. I was rudely awoken by my mother at 6.45am on Thursday as she crashed around in the utility room in the dark looking for candles to illuminate the kitchen and bathroom with due to the power cut. My temporary abode is in what we call the extension and at 30 years old is the most recent part of the house. Because of the modern building techniques involved and its location at the end of a passage, it reacts rather like the sound mirrors over at Dungeness, thus a dropped spoon in the kitchen sounds like a heavy machine gun going off. I had aimed to get up early anyway as the farrier was coming at 8 to shoe one of the horses and I would have had to move my car off the quagmire we're laughingly calling the drive. I did get away and fought the increasing wind into work although I was almost taken out by a Polish artic attempting to join Operation Stack at J10 of the M20 by cutting across three lanes of the roundabout in front of me without much notice (apologies to Jed and other colonials for whom this will be much like literary white noise).

The wind reached its fiercest around midday on Thursday. We got off lightly at work; the door of the old mushroom shed I work in blew open and the window is now held together with parcel tape. The surprise came when I got home. When I asked whether they'd lost any trees (not that there are many left to lose) Mum said that the apple tree in the garden had gone. I looked at my sister who was there picking up my babysat nephews and, even though it was by now pitch dark, we both ran outside to check. Our tree! MY tree. Everyone's tree; laying propped up by the old cypress Mum's wanted gone for years. The WRONG tree. My Great-Grandfather took this property over in 1948 and the tree was around then. My mother was 13 and would have known it; I learned to climb in its branches and used to swing down from one particular one, gone a few years now. I would sit in a high crook with a book and read and sleep, occasionally eating an apple. They were tart but crisp. "Don't eat those, you'll get stomach ache" Mum would yell out from the kitchen window. Never did. I developed a good throwing arm from aiming the unripe or rotting windfalls over a tree in the field next door. My own children and my nephews have climbed it and sat beneath the branches too. One tree, 59 years and four generations. Tomorrow it will be sawn up and the fibres that have processed tons of CO2 over the years will be used to heat the house during the forthcoming forecast cold snap. In fact, my Dad, who has little sentiment for this kind of thing, had already started to saw bits off it. I said not to do any more until he'd taken pictures of it at least. It's a member of the family, no need to be too hasty with the funeral, it hasn't left a will.

5 Vegetable peelings:

Blogger Tennessee Jed said...

Barbara Mandrell, "sleeping single in a double bed"??

Sorry to see the family's memory tree down, looks like the bench was barely spared.

3:19 am  
Anonymous Richard said...

Jed, the competition's been won, I'm afraid. Chainsaws have now rendered the tree down to a pile of logs. It's sad. We counted the rings and managed 50 definite but there were more. We think it must have been planted within a couple of years after my great-grandparents moved in, which may have been a couple of years earlier than I thought. We have the deeds somewhere.

5:53 pm  
Blogger Phil said...

Shame - I had a tree like that when I were a lad!
It's small consolation I know, but apple wood burns with a very pleasant smell....

10:54 pm  
Anonymous Richard said...

The smell when we were sawing it up was wonderful. It's a long time since we've lost an apple and I'd forgotten about that.

11:02 pm  
Blogger Pamela said...

That's sad Richard. So sorry about the loss of your apple tree. In the last great windstorm here a few weeks ago, my father lost a few trees at his childhood home.

It's a sad feeling.

7:56 am  

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