#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 71

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 71

Day 71

‘That’s a katsura tree,’ I say raising my head from the sign. ‘It smells like candyfloss in autumn,’ I add as my eyes glance further along the information display.

‘I want one,’ my partner says immediately.

‘We can’t have them all,’ I laugh. ‘Maple, oak, apple tree, katsura…’ Our list of trees we want to plant in the garden is never-ending. ‘We’ll grow a forest.’

‘Why not,’ my partner jokes.

‘Well…’ I do not really have a counter argument other than it would be impractical and probably not recommended with the pipes travelling under our patio.

We stand by the katsura tree a while longer before moving on. We are back at Westonbirt Arboretum. We didn’t manage to get an early ticket so we are here in the afternoon, many prams and toddlers occupying the paths. We have taken to overgrown paths by the boundary of the arboretum, venturing in and out as the fancy takes us.

‘It smells like food,’ my partner says as we walk along a wooded path neither of us is sure belongs to the arboretum.

‘We’re in a forest,’ I point out. ‘There’s loads to eat.’

‘Can’t you smell it?’

I inhale deeply. It smells of woodland after the rain, sweet and rich with a hint of something sharp and known. I look around the ground. ‘Garlic,’ I suggest.

My partner sniffs the air. ‘Yes! That’s it.’

‘So that much be wild garlic.’ I crouch by the long bright green leaves at the foot of a tree. I snap a leave and press it between my fingers. I smell the skin there. ‘It is.’ I stand up and offer the leave to my partner.

‘Definitely garlic.’

We harvest a few leaves in the hope to complement our dinner but I suspect we are late in the year for the best taste. We carry on the path until we reach a gate. We climb over the stile and in a few minutes are standing atop a mound. We can see the top of the trees forming the woods we have just explored. To our right, a mowed field expands behind a wooden fence. On the left, parents and carers are walking along with children by their side.

‘I could lie here all day,’ I tell my partner. ‘Or just follow the arrows of the MacMillan Way,’ I add half remembering the squiggly line of the way I once saw online.

We retreat back into the arboretum, following the less trodden paths. We read labels pinned to bark in the hope to learn more about trees, but I know I will forget most of them by the time we get home. I am too overwhelmed to concentrate and learn. Here, in the arboretum, I feel alive in a way I do not at home. I can breathe freely, my mind expanding with each steps taken, thoughts drifting, forming, slipping, gathering. Not much else matter than the fact that I am here, alive and steady, secure around these trees both old and young.

‘Yew,’ I name a tree as we pass by it. Oak, white willow, silver birch, Japanese maples, currant tree, monkey puzzle, orange tree, London Plane – platinus hispanica I slowly list in my head, smiling at the memory of the last one. I know I am forgetting some trees I can recognise and name but it doesn’t matter. For some, I only know them by the fruits that flourish in autumn or spring. Apple, cherry, plum, chestnut, forsythia, and more I cannot remember now.

I delight in the naming of trees, in the learning of their names and story. They are no longer anonymous and simply ‘tree’ but acquire an identity, making the world bigger and richer for me.

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