10 Feb The Fattening of the Buds

I have been out collecting thoughts and looking for signs that the trees are at last breaking their winter slumber. In the Brecks you have to search for deciduous trees. Most of the forest is conifer plantation and trees remain resolutely green through winter. Dotted in and around the plantations and along the rivers are belts of beech, horse chestnut and oak.

At the end of winter, I am desperate to see the landscape greening up. I call it ‘the fattening of the buds’, that moment when the silhouette of trees seems just that bit bigger; where less sky is revealed through the network of branches. This week, the trees are fatter. The black tips of ash are ruffled in a froth of flower and the oak too has opened tiny buds. But for now, only willow and sycamore have a pale blush of leaves. The beech avenue leading down to Santon Downham village will soon follow.

Trees do so much for us — both beauty and utility. They build our houses and furnish them, provide our medicines and our food, whisper thoughts in the wind and raise our spirits just being there. Research shows that people make quicker recoveries if their hospital bed has a view of trees and it is now realised that being amongst trees stills an overactive mind. Trees are our therapy. They also breathe with us. Every breath we take in has been exhaled by a tree. They take up and store the carbon we produce. Now we hear that we have been planting the wrong sort of trees and that coniferous plantations do nothing to buffer our carbon excesses.