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  • Keiron Farrow

DENDROPHILIA

I’ve always had a thing for trees. Well, it's a bit more than that really. They captivate me; I feel a sense of safety and protection when I’m surrounded by them. I can feel their living presence in the way one might be aware of others in a crowd or queue. Ever since I was small, there has always been a silent sense of recognition between us. I know this qualifies me as a ‘Tree Hugger’ and yes, I admit it, often I’ve wandered up to a tree in Abington Park (there’s a huge gnarled Beech that springs to mind) and run my hands along the skin, excuse me, bark.

I can distinctly recall cycling to work one morning just before my son was born and seeing what I call a ‘Mother Nature Moment’. On the edge of Nene Water Centre stands two mature Horse Chestnut trees and as I drew parallel with them on this particular cloudy, autumnal day, I saw a cluster of conkers suddenly skydive from the upper boughs and clatter onto the bonnet of a silver Mercedes SKL250; before scattering on the pavement and road. Firstly it made me chuckle and then feel like I’d seen a sort of miracle…I started to think about who lets go of who, is it the family tree or do the chestnuts know when it's their time? And their fate, to lay on concrete rotting, or to be pulverised by Pirellis. No chance to grow. I began to consider my imminent parenthood: the decisions I would have to make on behalf of my child; how much I could positively influence and protect and how much of the world they would have to navigate by themself one day…


In the last year or so I’ve become familiar with the work of Henry David Thoreau; finally, I’d found someone else who felt the force of a forest. His observations of the natural world and in particular trees are sublime. He talks about how they can stand for hundreds of years and they achieve this by knowing when to resist and when to accept change: how they sway so they don’t crack and fall. Which, I suppose is a pretty sound metaphor for the times we live in as much as Thoreau’s.


For me though, Howard Nemerov said it best in the poem ‘Trees’


“To be a giant and keep quiet about it,

To stay in one’s own place;

To stand for the constant presence of process

And always to seem the same;

To be as steady as a rock and always trembling,

Having the hard appearance of death

With the soft, fluent nature of growth…”

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