habitat

Rooted #writephoto

a cut-&-paste piece from the series, “Uncommon Trees” by Thackeray Hornbeam MD.

The deciduous tree, Acer Claustrophobia, does not like confinement in dark places. Its roots are so affected that they do not grow below ground, clinging instead to the very surface for dear life and fearful of stiff breezes. Neither will they thrive in deep forests or woods, preferring isolation or, at the very least, in small copses of no more than five companion trees.

The wood is highly sought after for making picnic tables and other outdoor furniture but is found unsuitable for sideboards, bookcases and beds, and certainly no risk ought to be taken in fashioning internal shelving for airing cupboards etc.: many a householder has been woken by strange night noises soon after employing a novice joiner in commissioning such a cupboard, only to open the door and discover their clean clothes strewn upon the floor.

Tapping the trunk produces a sweet syrup. It only requires the slightest tap to flow freely. Further tapping is completely unnecessary; the tree doesn’t need to be asked twice. The danger is getting it to stop coming out once it’s been invited. Also, it is a devil’s job to get the syrup into a screw top jar. It is best not to tap it at all. Just buy your syrup from the supermarket.

Similarly, the fruits are abundant. Perfectly spherical in form, they drop and roll great distances from the tree, roots permitting. Some have been DNA tested and found to be from parent trees in a neighbouring county. Some are still believed to be rolling. One such fruit has been rolling since around 1064 and is recorded diligently upon the Bayeux Tapestry, almost being trodden on by the King’s horse.

(279 words)


written for Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo #writephoto prompt – “Rooted”.

Smoke to sticks: changing habitats.

It’s been more than a quarter of a century since we exchanged a suburban environment for a more agrarian one. From London to Gloucestershire, with a briefer residence in North Wiltshire in between. We love it, and I can honestly say I don’t take it for granted. I cycle about our little patch of the Cotswolds and go walking around the greater part of it. More than ever, and more than anywhere else, it feels like home.

Part of my yearning to get out of suburbia was the monotony and homogeneity of the place; its utter dullness. Entertainment was a choice between the cinema (if you could find one before they closed it down), the bowling alley (ugh), the leisure centre, or one of the least terrible pubs serving not entirely undrinkable beer. If you needed more cheerful entertainment, it meant either going right into Central London or getting out altogether.

We’d been here a fair number of years when an old friend and his older teenage kids came to stay. I planned a little cross-country bike ride taking in a pub halfway. At one point, my friend asked his son if he could see himself living here to which the son replied, “Yeah, it’s okay, but what is there to do here?”

I was taken aback by this response, and a little offended, I admit – the fact we’d cycled the best part of an hour along dirt tracks, in and out of woods, around a lake, through farmyards and saw a great deal of wildlife, none of which could be done in suburbia, appeared lost on him.

It’s a long time ago now, and he has grown up and chose to travel around a bit, but his words have inexplicably haunted me. I made mental lists of what there is to do and there was nothing I could think of in the suburbs that isn’t available here. Yet there is a mountain of things to do here that is difficult, if not impossible, in the ‘burbs we came from.

I imagine suburbia breeds a distinct tribe of people, as likely do inner cities, semi-rural and rural environments, each seemingly intolerant of the others’. It’s a funny world; each to their own.