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Posts Tagged ‘ash dieback fungus’

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Ash, my tall and graceful one!
My sky-sweeping, rooted one!
Pillar of the upland airs,
Feather-leaved and blowsy one!
May you live forever
On the green meadow,
The cliff-side wood.

May you not decline
With the eastern wind
That blows unwitting death.
It is not hateful, nor malicious,
That small spored thing.
It is itself, longing to live,
Breathing when given space to breathe.
Happy to flourish free.

But all eat the other.
Each food delightful,
A means to be maintained,
And who can dare say
This one form has more need,
More right, than that other?

These hills, sighing open,
Green-pillared with ash and maple.
Sky-open, crow and jackdaw,
Hare and hawk,
Were once oak deep
’til cropped for pit and forge.
We ourselves so keen to scrape
And burrow, scratch and gather up.
Those stone walls now, too,
Broke and deserted, wooded once more.

Our curse in time, our measurement,
Our expectation.
Climbing into the hill country, (warm air,
Cool breeze), time clicks backwards
In increments,
By hours, by days, by weeks,
By months, by years.

Midsummer here
And the hawthorn still heavy,
Chestnut red and proud.
And the stone, the building,
The road, they slip back
To a century, two centuries, ago.
Time slowed in the hills,
Time holding on.
Like the ash, time growing tall
And bending – green time, leaved, roofed.
Time cherished, built up.

Our habitual curse:
A narrow view on time,
A time of coming and going,
A fragment of patterns
Made larger than horizons by life.
A horizon invisible, but for you,
Towering ash, standing
So fair and tall.

Today is enough.
Today is forever.
Weep not for what will be,
What will never be.

The green shadow cools
Down by the Derwent,
A haven for the silk sheen of ducks,
Their quiet chuckling graze in grass.
The goatsbeard turning to sleep at noon.

——


This collected around a journey up north into the Peak District of Derbyshire, the beginning of the Pennine uplands that run up the centre of England to the Borders of Scotland. The highest lands are sparse fields, stone walled, crow-haunted, with windbreaks of sycamore and beech. In the high valleys, steep and narrow, magnificent ash trees grow tall and broad. Here ash and maple (sycamore, great maple) take over from oak as the main woodland species.

Chalara fraxinea is the rather delightful name of the ash dieback fungus, first appearing in the forests of Poland quite a few years back. Since then it has made its way westwards devastating ninety-nine percent of Europe’s native ash trees. Now it has finally reached Britain. There is a slight hope that natural genetic diversity will allow five percent of trees to be resistant. It is very difficult to know what to do in the face of such changes. Life is a delicate, though robust, balance. The rise of one species and the decline of another is due to so many factors, and is part of the way things work here. We may favour the presence of one species over another, but our human view is always prejudiced by our habits and preferences. In the longer view of time, ninety-nine percent of all species that have ever existed here are extinct, and yet it all goes on. Who can say what life-form has more validity than another?

All we can offer is our appreciation for what is around us. Wishing all well. That may be all we can do. It may be the best we can ever do. It may be our sole purpose. To care for. To wish well. To cherish. Each day as it is.

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