The Tuesday tree: a solitary sycamore
Back on the winter solstice, a beautifully sunny, snowy morning, I took a photo of a ride leading down to a tree of unusual symmetry and grace.
Since then, I have kept noticing this tree, not only for its beauty but also because I realised, shamefacedly, that I didn’t know what it was. This feels a bit like when you’ve known somebody by sight for so long that it becomes too embarrassing to admit to them that you don’t have the faintest idea of their name. On Saturday, I finally confessed my ignorance to my husband.
‘Oh, it’s a sycamore,’ said he at once.
‘How do you know?’
‘Because it looks like a sycamore.’
Clearly, I have a lot to learn about sycamores. Apparently, the way that the main branches grow out from fairly low on the trunk and then sweep upwards is characteristic of them. To make sure, we decided that we should go and formally introduce ourselves to this particular tree.
From a distance, it looks rather slender and elegant. Up close, however, we realised just how powerful it really is, with muscular boughs branching out at head height before splitting into a myriad of energetic smaller ones.
We were all rather awestruck to meet it. My son thought it looked like an excellent climbing tree, though the main branches are just a little out of his reach at the moment.
But working his way out from the main trunk, he discovered that one of the tapering branches swoops down to make a perfect rocking horse. Much shrieking with delight and bouncing up and down ensued.
So, a tree that is both beautiful and friendly to children. For most of the year, we cannot easily get to it, as it stands in a field full of livestock: you can see how last year’s sheep have worn the earth around it quite bare. (You can see the bright green spurts of nettles starting to grow as well.) Whenever we next visit this sycamore, though, you can be sure that I will not forget the name that goes with this face.
You can see a post about another splendid old climbing tree – a rather similar sycamore – here (‘A Guardian of the Riverbank’), and pictures of another solitary sycamore in changing foliage here (‘Tuesday’s tree: Sycamore’), together with a little more information about these trees in general.