I said goodbye to our willow tree before I left this morning. The tree people were already milling around in their high viz jackets, and heavy machinery was beginning to rev up.
It was a quiet day at Courtyard Arts today; no classes going on, and only a few passing visitors. Working outside in the sun, I finished covering the pillow-stuffing taproot and it dried quickly. I had a long chat with Liz, the morning steward, about the climate and Extinction Rebellion (of which she is a member). Our politics aligned, and we both admire George Monbiot hugely. I will join Liz’s XR group (North and East Herts) in September for a demonstration in London. We agreed that our main hope for the climate lies with the momentum, motivation and anger of the young generation – those that will bear the brunt of years of apathy. That doesn’t mean we do nothing of course. The North and East Herts XR team is made up of menopausal women! Up with menopausal women!
After covering the taproot, I wanted to honour our tree in some way, so I cleared the end of the gallery completely and started to incorporate the tree’s branch which I had brought from home. It was an excellent base for the snakey tendrils to emanate from – I fitted them together like a child’s toy and starting making connections with them. It was extremely satisfying!
In the afternoon, I was visited by a local artist, Franklyn Beckford, who is also a tutor at Hertford Regional College in Ware. He had taught two friends from my cohort, Terry and Amber, before they completed their degree at Herts Uni. Quick plug: his beautiful work in pewter and porcelain is going to be shown at The Brotherhood in Hertford from 15th – 25th September.
Coming home, I was feeling apprehensive. There was a strange lightness around the house, as if the sea were the other side of it. In the back garden, only the maimed trunk of the tree remained, and around it all its limbs in a pile of discs. The garden looked ordinary, without depth or complexity. The field at the back looked too near. There was a harsh bright light on the ugly outbuilding, normally softened by branches and dappled shade. We have lived for 21 years loving that tree and eating meals under its protection – and many others enjoyed it for decades before us. However, it is still alive and will sprout shoots, and perhaps will enjoy not having the burden of its heavy branches.
Liz reading about rewilding as I covered my taproot
Franklyn Beckford and me, in amongst the tendrils
Laura and Sandra making a snakey tendril (Sandra finds it very therapeutic)
The ladder is supporting a long tendril with damp joints (nobody wants those)
Our tree has become a Strange Being