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Spring’s Approach – To The Trees Edition #15

Glastonbury Tor - Fri 26th Feb

Glastonbury Tor – Fri 26th Feb

During the last few weeks, the lanes have been singing a different song. The change was abrupt, from one day to the next it seemed to metamorphosise, from a subdued gentle twitching into a rousing avian chorus, wassailing the orchards and hedgerows, awakening them with the liveliness of Spring.

The month has travelled quickly, days spilling into each other, separated softly by swathes of misted wonder. Other days, the sky spreads a bright blue dome skirted by bellowing unreal clouds. On others, we are drenched in showers and haloed by rainbows. Some days are thoroughly white, the landscape curtained by brushed aluminium swathes and a few flakes of snow tumbling lazily.

The gulls drift on gales, hiding out inland, as the severn estuary rocks on the wind. The canopy squawks, and whoops and hammers with woodpeckers. Black hooded swooping meets tiny blue blinking as the long tails gang up on the great tits, whilst down in the hedgerows, battles are fought with far flung red breasted glances and an angry song, sung angelically.

Glastonbury Tor – Fri 26th Feb

During a short walk down Bulwarks lane, I was met by a blackbird, a robin, blue tits, a woodpecker and a rare sighting of a gold crest, picking its way through the understory. All these birds were moving around with purpose, largely ignoring each other, except for the Robins whose focus was only on other robins. It’s like rush hour out there, as all are staking their claim to territory, vying for a mate, building nests and learning to fully embody and embellish their unique song.

Cherry Plum Blossom – Higher Wick Farm

The change of tune is a welcome relief, not only does it provide a new soundtrack to my walks, but it also provokes a certain lifting of the heart and an energising of the mind. Lethargy has been replaced by waves of action and a drive and ability to apply myself.

Somewhere, a switch has turned or a valve released that provides a metaphorical, if not fully manifested, forward motion, accompanied by a strong feeling of capability. It’s as if a late winter fire has been ignited in my heart, one that brings an awakening from a sleep I didn’t quite realise I was in.

As I walk beneath the shadow of the Tor, my attention is drawn to the two large hedgerow ash trees standing in the same field as the Wiggly Oak, on the side of Wellhouse Lane. Last year, these trees were already much further on, releasing an abundance of male flower buds. Some of the dried flowers still remain on the tree, dark cauliflower-like things, holding on to skinny little dried stalks. So far this year, these trees show no sign of flowering at all, the buds are developing normally and are not showing the tell tale swelling that would indicate a prompt release of flowers.

This observation might seem mundane, but it is certainly very interesting to me. In studying ash trees we realise that they can change sex from year to year. I know for certain that this tree released male flowers last year and that the trees further up Wellhouse lane produced many female flowers last year, indicated by the bunches of hanging ash keys still clinging to the tree. I wonder if this year the trees will reverse roles, they could just as easily not produce any flowers at all, or produce a mixture of male and female flowers together on the same tree.

This will be the first time I have taken note of the sex of an ash with the intention of noting its changes in the next year, I look forward to observing these and a handful of others over the next few weeks.

The view from Coombe Hill, Somerset – 22nd Feb 2021

This initial flurry of Spring activity could be luring us into a false sense of security, but it does give us a hint of a light at the end of Winter’s tunnel. This ignition of Spring in the landscape was mirrored by a creative gear change within. The following song emerged with immediacy and then slowly unfolded over the course of two weeks after Imbolc. It’s an ode to the creative spirit, to the fire of inspiration and explores the idea that words emerge from flame, stories are held there and humans were created by fire to speak for it.

Listen below to a demo, or visit bandcamp to purchase a download.

I look forward to seeing, singing or speaking to you soon, perhaps even in person.

Words – Demo Recording

Upcoming Events

Virtual Tree Walks
More virtual tree walks will be announced in March
Via To The Trees Fb group – By donation

LIVE performances via facebook
Keep your eyes peeled for more morning performances from locations in Avalon.

Tree Walks
In person walks will begin again in April, with max of 5 people.
£10pp – Booking is required.

Mon 5th April – Bank Holiday Tree Walk for 5
A walk will leave at 11am and 2pm.
More dates to be announced

In person walks for 6+ people will hopefully begin at some point in May.


Soon! x


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Matt Witt

Author Matt Witt

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