Celebrating BATSFORD BOOKS
~ bringing a little colour to Austerity Britain in the late 1940s…
Post-war urban fantasies of a countryside never known, or forgotten since escaping it at a young age.
Exactly one hundred years ago today, on 2nd February 1913, Joyce Kilmer, US poet, penned her famous poem:
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 UK TREE COUNCIL
TIMES EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT (TES) – teaching resources
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.