Broken

The first delicate greenery has appeared. Hawthorn leaves unfurl on slender branches. Fresh nettles and cow parsley push through the soil. Winston enjoys eating the surfeit of young cleavers. The ivy looks ragged and the majority of branches are still bare, but change is afoot.

We haven’t been to the dene since before the last few storms and we walk into a broken landscape. The fallen tree at the edge of the bowling green is still there, taped and coned off. But this is only the beginning. The already-damaged rowan near the entrance is a blasted trunk. A sycamore lies prone behind it, broken off at the base. A smaller tree lies to one side.

I notice that my favourite tree is in full blossom, but it doesn’t look quite right. When we get closer, I see that it too is broken. I’m devastated by the loss. It is the first tree to flower in the spring, with long tumbling blossoms trailing the ground. Another mature tree lies fallen near by, its limbs crusted in lichen. The wind has torn through the upper dene and left devastation behind it.

We walk under the bridge. Beyond, the dene is calm. The burn slowly trickles. I see occasional movement as small fish dart below the surface. A wood pigeon sits in a blackthorn tree, feeding on the buds. Daffodil shoots have appeared as usual beneath the two birches on the edge of the stream. A swathe of purple crocuses bloom in their spot at the end of the linden avenue. There are violets in the hedgerows and the daffodils by the pond are already in flower. Blackthorns are in blossom.

The pond is quiet. Two male mallards swim lethargically. A gull keeps pace with a mallard. A pair of crows forage at the edge. I can hear tits and a robin high up in the trees. But one of the weeping willows that fringe the pond is weeping a little too much. A break high up makes it lean closer to the water.

The trees aren’t the only things going into this spring a little more broken than they were two years ago. I struggle with a persistent low mood that I can’t shake off. Motivating myself to walk further than the park at the end of the road is hard. I tire of a routine that is little more than work and home and back again. And yet bad news stories of war, soaring prices and poverty remind me how lucky I am.

Spring equinox is tricky. We’re propelled forward, from darkness into light, from lack into plenty, trying to find our balance while losing an hour on the way. I always forget how unsettling this turning can be. The equinox brings bees and celandine. It brings gentle mists and grass shimmering with diamonds of melted frost. Seagulls canoodling on chimneys and great tits fluting their call in the canopy. A mini-forest of saplings planted in the park. It brings light, tickling my eyes as I lie in bed, calling me to get up and enjoy the day. I follow its call.

90 thoughts on “Broken

  1. Another soulful commentary. I had to look up cleavers so learned something new today. Like you, I have to remind myself that I am lucky. At least I have a winter coat that I am not fond of and shoe choices that still don’t seem to be quite the thing. State and local road maintenance teams are still picking up the masses of broken limbs and trees that were toppled by a heavy wet snow storm last January, but I think some wind and rain storms this early Spring may have added more to the tons that have a already been picked up a long most of our roads (major and secondary.) I saw a beautiful red bud in bloom that had recently split in half–the newly opened red buds were still waving jauntily from the broken limb, not yet deprived of enough moisture to droop.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had never seen cow parsley. Thanks!
    Our willow is a-buzz with bees above and the ground is carpeted with wildflowers and bees. This is an especially memorable spring.

    Like

  3. What a heartbreaking loss of so many beautiful trees. Mature trees aren’t replaceable within our lifetime, so the loss is felt more keenly.
    Your lovely words reveal a beautiful spring day, however. Happy Spring!

    Like

  4. I’m sorry so many of “your” trees were broken by harsh winds this winter. It’s hard to process, isn’t it? Especially in a beloved, well-known landscape. I remember being near tears when, last spring, my last in Idaho, I ventured back into the forest after the snow melted. I could no long ignore the damage done by beetles to the firs and pines, their needles brown and dropped on the ground, leaving bare limbs where there should have been bursts of new bright green needles snuggled against the older, darker green ones. The beetles are invasive, making the loss harder. The Forest Service logged the area in an effort to remove the dead trees and provide more light and space for those surviving. To me, it looked like Armageddon.

    On a positive note, you do have spring with its flowers and leaf buds! I’m still eagerly waiting (as it snows this evening)…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The trees aren’t the only things going into this spring a little more broken’, says it all. it’s remarkable how the surroundings reflect the inner struggles and moods. A beautiful post, as ever.

    Like

  6. You describe the unsettling changes of a season so well – here we have moved into autumn, although the summer heat is mostly still reluctant to leave – with its overlay of human suffering brought on by humans. What are we doing to our world? Your post ends with a positive note … nature can nurture us if we let it, just as it reminds us of our wrongdoing in terms of the way we mistreat it. I hope you will soon be able to rise above the gloom and take heart from the newness of spring.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How each season brings forth such wonder! And beautifully captured as always. I do the same jolly walk every day and the return trip is simply retracing the steps on the same track. I agree – it’s not the same walk that brings delight, but the newness of each day. At present all the cows are having calves so that’s exciting!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It does seem harder to find balance this spring. Melting snow has uncovered downed branches and rabbit-damaged bushes that tugged at my heart, and the students once eager to learn seem too weighted down by the world to engage. Yet as you so eloquently observe, a bit of warmth and light expose new life and possibilities.

    Like

  9. Thank you Andrea for another excellent post.
    Like you I have been feeling a sense of low mood…most unusual for me at this time of the year. Spring being my favourite season. I believe it’s a combination of so many things…some we are aware of and some we are not.
    The war, along with mad, greedy men who dominate us makes me so angry – an emotion I don’t like….but can’t shake.
    Like you I remind myself daily of how fortunate I am. A roof over my head, food in the cupboards, etc….but there is this underlying sadness and dread. Your beautiful and now broken trees exemplify this.

    This too shall pass……Janet

    Like

  10. The loss of a dear tree hits every bit as hard as if they were human. All its years and experiences and memories, of which we only have our own small personal inkling. I’m glad you have the saplings among your motivations to rise and keep the world company. I have certainly been feeling the same but you’ve put your finger on it all so well about the propulsive energy of this equinox; it’s hard to know how to channel it all when your head and heart is still half underground. We will figure it out!

    Like

  11. So sorry about the devastation to your precious Dene. We share your sorrow. Trees are like longstanding, treasured friends. We hope spring will bring healing to the Dene and to yourself. We always enjoy reading about your visits there and many of us are thankful for your generosity in supporting our own blogs as well. Every blessing.

    Like

  12. Bore da, Andrea. It’s always sad to see a landscape ravaged by the elements. Fallen trees become tomorrow’s food and homes for many. In the past, I’ve potted shoots of fallen trees and brought them on, and then planted them out. The fresh growth of Spring will soften the scene. It’s good to see you and Winston modging about enjoying the change. Even Sid The Seagull put in a camio:)
    Thank you for writing such a lovely post, Andrea. Take care, and I’ll catch you soon.
    {We saw our first Swallow of summer yesterday. A sign of better things to come.}

    Like

    • It’s good to see you too Mick, it will be interesting to see if those responsible for maintaining the dene will leave anything of the trees behind, or if they’ll just be given to the chipper. It would be good to think something of them remained.

      Like

  13. I am sorry to hear of all the devastation after the storms. We have been fortunate here this year not to have seen any storms of that magnitude in our area.

    Trees have started blooming here, too, and we are just passing peak daffodil. Enjoy your spring as it unfolds into summer. I have enjoyed your descriptions of the seasonal changes, as always.

    Like

  14. Love the photos, Andrea! The inclusion of how you are feeling adds such a meaningful layer to the landscape descriptions. So sorry about the tree. We lost a precious tree before we moved from that home, a hundred year old olive tree, casually removed by unthinking gardeners employed by the condominium community. We had lost our little dog, Acey, just before the tree was removed. It all felt like too much. Thank you for the update.

    Like

  15. There is much melancholy here. Those beautiful trees – so many! – that have fallen just enhance that feeling. Spring is here and it is time to pick up the pieces. Beautiful writings and photos, Andrea.

    Like

  16. Your writing is so evocative. I felt I was right there in the Dene, sensing the greening and blackthorn blossom, the celandine and the birdsong, tempered with sadness at the tree-loss. Death and rebirth. The natural cycle. Hopefully, an upswing in your mood will follow.

    Like

  17. The willow weeps…yet the light can call us out of bed when things feel too hard. Your writing feels full of heart and noticing and beautiful, as always. I am sorry trees get bent and broken in nature, and I am sorry for how hard it can be when our spirits flag. Blessings to you, Andrea, and may we always notice the beauty you’ve described in your sharing here. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Spring to the backdrop of damage is apt. I feel your moods, it’s a strange time, with any luck the blooming of spring will be mirrored by the world. It does make us appreciate what they have and the beauty around us is free to appreciate, thankfully.

    Like

  19. Nature is impartial, it does not take sides; it does not offer beauty for beauty’s sake, it is what it is; while we, enslaved by our superficial expectations about the external conditions must suffer, for we have separated ourselves from the mystic life-giving forces.

    Like

  20. The storms certainly ravaged many trees, shrubs and fences.. Here too Andrea the storms were brutal.. Have you also noted how many of the tree’s rooting systems seemed damaged as if they were dying underground ?.. I noticed a few like that around and about..
    One thing though.. Nature is resilient … She continues to change and adapt.. As do we… As we head for new Energies that take us out of the Dark.. Into the Light..
    Lovely post as Always Andrea… 🙂 ❤

    Like

  21. Your post is a timely reminder that we humans aren’t the only ones suffering, but also that amidst the brokenness there is a need to practice daily joy — to seek out the new buds and the nesting birds — and share it with others. To remind ourselves that spring continues however fragmented. Wishing you well.

    Like

  22. Our variable weather (a mix of late winter/early spring storms) left us this past weekend with tree branches and twigs on the ground with worries about the many nests recently built…the sun is shining now and I’m left hoping for warmer days!
    I hope that spring takes hold in your part of the world and sparks a longing for longer wanders…feeling gratitude does help, I’m ever thankful to be able to make a cup of tea and hope to embrace days that seem to run together, at the very least, they are my days to savour.
    As always, Andrea, a lovely read and photos to get lost in…

    Like

  23. We have lots of broken trees here too – sad to see them. These are unsettling times and it can be difficult to stay positive. Those signs of spring and some sunshine can help to raise the spirits a little.

    Like

  24. I know I have said it before, Andrea, but you are such a gifted writer. I enjoy everything you post for your words reveal such beauty and expectation of life all around us…and rightly so.

    Like

  25. Oh Andrea, I understand the grief that accompanies the loss of a favorite tree. It’s devastating to see these long-lived sentinels tumble to the ground. The world is filled with bad news, but we have plants, land, books, and each other to take comfort in. Take good care. x

    Like

  26. wow, those are some powerful winds to be taking down such big trees. I enjoyed your words and walk through the dene, Andrea, and I, too, have experienced great pain with the loss of big old favorite trees and other much-loved flora and fauna. This war has been so deeply upsetting. We remember what we have and we get up every day and we endure. Lovely essay.

    Like

  27. Beautiful writing, Andrea. With all the destruction the storms have brought to your dene and all the devastation left behind, along with the general mood of winter and chaos of the world, I too feel more weight everywhere making it hard to lift to a higher mood ~ but your last paragraph is what makes this post (and your writing) something so special. Inspiring: “It brings light, tickling my eyes as I lie in bed, calling me to get up and enjoy the day. I follow its call.” The magic of spring is helping clear the cobwebs and understanding change (no matter how difficult) can be beautiful as well. Wish you a great week ahead.

    Like

  28. I’m a month behind! Now I look forward to reading your May post, but I must admit, I’m not ready for May yet (yes, I know, I know, it’s May 4!). But I love the spring and yet suffered the entire month of April because of pollen and allergies. So, I didn’t get to enjoy seeing the first little seedlings of hope on the trees and bushes. Well, I saw but I sneezed through a lot of it. I mourned your tree along with you. My guy and I have started to walk in the woods again (I bring my nose spray :–) ) and see so many downed trees. I touch them and gently say, “good bye. “

    Like

  29. My talented friend: Even without photos, you have a way of taking us right along beside you on these walks, and imparting the mood and feelings not only of your surroundings, but of yourself.
    I think many of us can also empathise with that low general mood along with the feeling that with what others in the world are experiencing, we shouldn’t have the luxury of feeling down. But those two things can co-exist, and for many of us, they do. Hugs from my little corner of Canada, where spring is even more gratefully received this year.

    Like

I love comments, please leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.