Why The Birch Weeps

It is seven years today since Jessica’s death. Sam and Louisa can here be seen climbing under her jumper in a detail from a photograph I took, in a coppice in Surrey, in 1984, a large print of which hangs in our daughter’s sitting room.

Louisa posted it on Facebook this morning.

Honeysuckle now adorns the hedgerows of Downton Lane where I met Bryan Raby on my way to the Spar shop this morning. Bryan was strimming the verges alongside the caravan sites. He is a handyman from Zimbabwe who also carries out plumbing and carpentry. I took his card.

Further on, an escort blocked the road whilst, just beyond a ‘road narrows’ sign, a huge static caravan, being delivered to Shorefield Country Park, edged up the slope. The camper van perched on the distant hillside would have found the approach rather easier.
Luci and Wolf, on their way home to Clapham from Kilmington, made a diversion to visit us. Jackie prepared an excellent salad lunch, and we took our time enjoying it and each other’s company. From a friendship spanning so many years there was much available material, some reflecting on our differing childhood experiences.

Having seen our guests on their way Jackie and I sat for a while in what is now the fourth seating area of the garden. It was not until last night that the concreted south west corner was finally cleared of the pile for burning. When we arrived at our new home there was evidence of a bonfire having been lit on this spot. As our neighbours over the back often have a window open in a very vulnerable position, I decided to move our fire further down the back drive and to negotiate when it would be reasonable to light it, since it would require them to close their windows. We have come to a most amicable agreement. Bev is only happy to be consulted, since that had not been their previous experience.
In the left foreground of the picture above, stands a brick structure on which lies a tub of recently potted plants. The nasturtium appears to have survived being transplanted from the kitchen garden. This construction has been erected by Jackie to conceal the pipe that once held a circular washing line and still protrudes from the path.
Our predecessors preferred a more traditional line stretched across this area for their washing. As the final contribution to clearing this spot, Jackie took down the line which currently still hangs from a corner post. Above the fence to the right of this picture can be seen a TV satellite dish. The only activity that Bev had warned me against was melting this dish, which had apparently been achieved before. That was one more reason for moving the bonfire.
I have described earlier the bed head screwed to the weeping birch tree at the other end of the washing line. That would be enough provocation to arboreal distress.

Our tree has, however, been subjected to more prolonged torture by being the second post to which had been tied the plastic coated washing line. The tether tightly constricts the tree. It has bitten in so deeply that we cannot remove it. Some day, maybe, a dendrochronologist will be able to assess the age of the tree before it was so molested, and how many years it has been in pain.
After that lunch, scrambled egg on toast was ample for our evening meal.


  1. I don’t know who Jessica was, but my heart folded on itself when I read about her passing. The photo of the children trying to hide under her jumper, brought tears to my eyes.
    Thank you for posting this, and blessings to you and yours Derrick.

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