The Lateral Tree R.I.P.

… for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of thee? (Deuteronomy 20:19)


Last Sunday I was to photograph you again for this journal. It was raining heavily when I came across where you should have been. The ground was sodden like a graveyard, your naked stump its tombstone, the pitter patter of the rain playing the last post. Gracefully you should have been leaning as if bearing the burden of the world, telling its tale in your annual cycle, heroically holding the fort and refusing to succumb.









Like another hero, a scheming Delilah stole up on you in the dead of your winter slumber to cut your tresses and stub you out. Their cold metal would have frozen at the sight of you bedecked in your virginal purity of spring. Their blades would have blunted were you challenged in your magisterial summer splendour. Your sagacious swaying in autumnal gusts showering the world with gold like a vision in Denae’s dream would have cured them of their machinations.


Cowardly they choose the fruitless winter when blind to your font of life they imagined you dead to kill you again.


I came across the foul deed on the Friday after you had barely been taken down. Your twigs were strewn about like scattered limbs, your entrails still visible in pools of sawdust. A veil of mist lay across the park shamed at the charge torn from its arms, the birds humming a dirge for the bride that will not emerge. I walked to where you should have been dreading the absence of your sight, the heart ripped from the corner that will forever be yours.



In your innocence you would stand harmless and defenceless. Your leaves whispered secrets of yore as gusts swayed your sagacious bough while you remained fortified by your roots. You laid to rest your tired head never to raise it again. Where once you stood proud and resolute, with dignity in your bow and grace in your poise there is now void and a frightening menace.



Like gnawing rats nothing did they leave behind but blade marks imprinted on your unadorned stub wagging a finger at the world. They could not though steal your shade where even the grass refused to grow as a tribute to your graceful presence. The trees around you bow their heads in shame that neither their height nor might could shield you as you were brought down never to come to life again.



I watched patiently as you turned from green to brown to yellow to gold without knowing that those would to be your final bursts of colour? Could you not survive one last spring for the world to see you in your finest dazzling moment? Did I by exposing you cause your demise? You stood for those who develop at an angle, who choose to look at the world from low down, who see not fulfilment in dizzying heights, who measure not greatness in towering over others. To us you did not lean but were straight in your own way. You grew laterally not vertically.



I see the white blossom of spring nearby and I ask should it not be red with your blood and blush with shame? Spring will soon emerge all around but you will not be there to take your rightful and proud part. If a view has been opened to your corner I see only what’s no longer. Let the flowers form a garland to cordon off the scene of crime. Let the trees provide the evidence. Let the birds halt their nest building to recall your silent, anguished cries as you nodded towards the ground beneath you one last time.

Falling from so low down you could do no harm; could they not afford to let you live?





Sunday, 26 February 2012


The tree was its normal self. Little did I know that within a few days it would cease to be. It was a nice morning, yellow and white crocuses  were sprouting at the top of the park and on the hill and the sun was streaming into the corner graced by the tree.


Although neighbouring trees were showing signs of spring not our little tree. It turned brown in autumn when other had almost entirely shed their load. It lost its leaves weeks after other trees had been hibernating.

Waltham Forest-20120226-00459

A closer look suggested there may be some budding blossoms…

Waltham Forest-20120226-00460

…but for the moment there was little to blow in the wind.


On the way to the tree there was an interesting sight for our usually tranquil park in the shape of a dog dragging the cadaver of a large bird between its teeth.


Was it a harbinger? Did the sound of the dog crunching on the bones of its prey foretell the grinding sound of woodcutters at work nearby butchering an innocent graceful tree? Could I have known what was to befall the tree this week? That before the week was out all that would be left would be a sore, raw stump?


Sunday, 19th February 2012


Spring was in the air this last Sunday. Crocuses were sprouting, the weather had that thin spring wind and the sky was blue.


Are these brown buds the first sproutings of blossom?

Waltham Forest-20120219-00402

It is now but a matter of time before the spring renaissance begins. We saw the pangs of birth in the snow earlier in the month.

Sunday, 12th February 2012





Sunday, 5th February 2012






Sunday, 15 January 2011


It was a cold morning but the sun put on a brave face. In fact you often wonder if the sun doesn’t have a sense of humour radiating apparent warmth when everywhere is covered in ice. Or perhaps it’s being smug.


You see the same tree week after week with no sign of life and you wonder where the life will be coming from in a few months from now.

Waltham Forest-20120115-00138

You also wonder what is it that makes it alive when it is dead to all intent and purposes. It may be resurrected in spring but so are the dead, so can the tree said to be living?


Well, dead or alive it’s still an assuring sight in its same position through all seasons and all weather.

Sunday, 20th November 2011

On a crisp, misty morning our tree bedecked in golden tresses and spreading gold dust all around. It may be a late developer, or a late ager in fact, but it’s been well worth the wait seeing it gradually change from green of summer to this bright lustrous gold.




And here is its neighbour in an almost perfect circular pool of leaves. Or have the leaves been butchered off and there stands the tree in a pool of blood?


But it’s our little nipper I can’t get enough of.


Clarity in the mist


Sunday, 13th November 2011

Thanks to my daughter and niece for taking the photographs while I was away.


The leaves in profile. Better than any I’ve taken.




Sunday, 6th November 2011

Sorry for not writing for some time. I did take the photographs on each of the Sundays but simply did not get round to putting them up. But here they are now.


Autumn is visibly catching up with our little tree though it has stood up very well to the weather and its hunched look is clearly deceiving.




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