Design/User Researcher. Currently bridging the gap between Market and User Research at Monotype. Ex BBC Audience Researcher. Former Director of Mark Boulton Design and Five Simple Steps.

In memory of a tree I once climbed

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A beautiful field maple in my parents' garden blew down in a terrible storm last week. It's stood in their garden for 40 years and has been there a lot longer as part of a very old hedgerow predating their 70's housing estate. Last Summer my eldest daughter climbed it for the first time and I took these photos. You can see it's beautiful, twisted trunk and wide, flat leaves. The trunk grew sideways and up, which made it easy to climb and sit in, even for a five year old like Alys. You can see more clearly in this photo, with two year old Nansi underneath.

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We went to see my parents last weekend and my Mum shed a tear as she told us about the fallen tree. The loss of the tree has left a gaping hole in the garden where it once stood. The view from my old bedroom window is different. Harder, starker. Even without leaves in winter it gave privacy and shielded the view of the houses behind. It's presence was comforting and welcoming. More than that, it was associated with happy memories of my childhood with my sister. Climbing trees, making dens, picking fruit, talking to imaginary friends and playing with real ones too. In more recent years, I have new memories of our children and my sister's children enjoying the same pleasures. Is it a coincidence that one of our favourite childhood books was The Magic Faraway Tree trilogy by Enid Blyton after growing up climbing trees and living next to woods? Probably not.

So, what will become of the fallen tree? Today much of it was cut up and brought to my house, where it is now drying out ready to use as fire wood. Some of the trunk will also be used for more decorative purposes by my sister's husband who is a very talented sculptor and wood turner. A simple, but fitting end for such a fine tree. 

Writing this blog post might seem trite but losing this tree has reminded me how magnificent trees really are. They provide us with so much, yet we often give them little thought and will happily cut down swathes of woodland to make way for what we call 'progress'. So this is my way of marking the life of a wonderful tree and to say thank you for it.

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