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literature

Celebrating BATSFORD BOOKS

~ bringing a little colour to Austerity Britain in the late 1940s…

Woodland crafts in Britain

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The English Scene

English Woodland

British Woodland Trees

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English Town Crafts

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Forestry and Woodland Life

Post-war urban fantasies of a countryside never known, or forgotten since escaping it at a young age.

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Exactly one hundred years ago today, on 2nd February 1913, Joyce Kilmer, US poet, penned her famous poem:

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I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
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(and god bless you, Joyce Kilmer)
In 1951 Ogen Nash – in his “Song of the Open Road” – came  up with the famous parody:
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I think that I shall never see/
A billboard lovely as a tree./
Indeed, unless the billboards fall,/
I’ll never see a tree at all.
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http://onehundredyearsagotoday.wordpress.com/

It’s National Tree Week in the UK, “an annual celebration to start the UK’s winter tree planting season”. With the diabolically wet weather right now, let’s hope all those keenly dug planting holes are not a complete wash out. (Trees can drown too).

For those who would like to learn more, maybe even to support the cause, here are three excellent authorities to inform:

THE BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/20464917

THE UK TREE COUNCIL

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/20464917

TIMES EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT (TES) – teaching resources

http://www.tes.co.uk/teaching-resource/National-Tree-Week-3012589/

Robin’s rest

And for those who just like to look at interesting trees, here’s what is claimed to be the “most famous tree in England” – The Major Oak (Robin Hood’s Oak) in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. It has a girth of 33 feet and is estimated between 800 and 1000 years old.

For the last two months I’ve been enjoying a “virtual fall” in the blogosphere, courtesy of trees lovers across the (northern) temperate world. At thanksgiving I give thanks to bloggers who’ve shared with me the glories of autumn from Washington State to Wuhan. And let’s not forget those on-line antipodeans already tempting us with the hopes of next spring, from Canberra to Cape Town (thank you – you know who you are). The internet liberates us from the constraints of local horizon.

Here where I live – in Central Arabia, 400 kilometres from the nearest sea – we have only two and a half seasons. The two main events are summer (very hot and very dry) and winter (warm, sometimes hot, and dry). Between winter and summer is a short transitional phase, with rain, dust, sandstorms and occasional sand induced total eclipses of the sun, literally darkness at noon. Conventional temperate culture dictates I should call this half season “spring”. I’m not sure what the arabic poets make of it.

The rhythm of the seasons is deeply ingrained in the (western?) temperate psyche. The arabic world prizes poetry, but for a westerner it’s hard to imagine a literature without the deeply embedded theme of the seasons of life. No doubt arabic literature celebrates other nuances of life’s passage. I would love to explore this further… This seasonal rhythm runs very deep with us temperate folk. I remember how disoriented I was in the year I spent shuttling between London and Johannesburg. No jet lag (maximum 2 hour time difference) but 12 months of complete season-lag.

So here in the Middle East Quixotree is suffering from ADD – Autumn Deficit Disorder, and cannot join the colour-fest. I can only sit quietly (by the pool) and dream of chilly nights and the crunch of dry leaves underfoot. I have no autumn images to offer.

One thing I’m sure the arabian poets must celebrate is the bounty of the date palm, Phoenix dactylifera, a calorific gift to Arabia and Southern Asia for at least 8000 years. I have no wonderful autumn images I can share with you, so here instead is the splendid date palm.

Phoenix dactylifera – bounty in a harsh environment

twenty to seventy calories a piece

at the market