a guardian of the riverbank
I am rather excited about today’s tree. (Hmm, looking at that sentence….wonder if I need to get out more….) No, stay with me! We had a picnic down by the river on Sunday, where we were re-acquainted with one of the most wonderful characters on the estate. A sycamore (again: I do seem to be repeating myself this month, I’m afraid) but such a sycamore. Broad of girth, many-limbed, rounded and pleasing in silhouette, it stands guard over the river with its feet deep in wildflowers and its branches stretching out towards the pebbly shore.
How long has it stood here, I wonder? It must have witnessed generations of fishermen working the water in search of the elusive salmon. For the past hundred years or more, salmon fishermen have worn breeks (britches or plus-fours) of good warm Harris tweed: what did they wear in the eighteenth century, though? Did they net the fish in those days, was it just the odd poacher who bothered with salmon, or was it already becoming a sport for gentlemen? Did people pause on the shore, looking up-river to admire the view of the hills rising in the north, or did they turn their backs on the barbaric highlands and glance gratefully at the peaceful pastures downstream? This tree would know all the answers, if only it could communicate them. More likely, however, it would not have noticed anyway. Its slow consciousness would probably be all of earth and air, rain and the river’s rise and fall, growth and green days.
And perhaps of the occasional little boy who, as the centuries have wheeled, has in his turn discovered the sycamore’s thick limbs and mossy platforms. It is a horse to bestride, it is a high fort to defend, it is the deck of a pirate ship tossing on the seven seas. It is a marvelous, marvelous tree.