Monday, February 9, 2015

Trees outside the window . . .

I wonder, have you any trees outside your window?

It was the trees that sold me this flat.
I hadn't wanted a third-floor flat.  On the contrary, I'd been searching for one at ground floor level, a flat with easy outside access for my cat.
Then, somehow, don't ask me how, I was persuaded to come and give this one a look.

The estate agent led me through the hall and into the empty living room.
But it wasn't the room that caught my attention, it was the trees directly outside the window . . . not something you'd expect to encounter in central London.

Level with the window-ledge were the upper branches of a chestnut and a plane tree . . . trees who reached up from the communal garden below.

Anyone looking out of the window had, for a moment,  the fanciful illusion that they were living in some floating wonderland above the tree-tops.
I hardly looked at the flat, there was no need . . . I bought it for the trees.

Over the years they've flourished and grown and are now in their maturity.  Trees that were here before I was born, trees that will still be here when I've gone.

As representatives of the Earth's largest living organism, they've now passed my window and stretch their upmost branches way beyond the roof.
I live alongside the trees . . . overlooked by the trees . . . they enrich my life.

What's more, like all living things they are constantly evolving.

In spring, as the leaves slowly unfurl, the branches reach out and each tree's individual territory broadens accordingly.

In summer, when the foliage is dense, this green barrier filters out the intensity of the sun and keeps my living-room pleasurably cool.

In autumn the deepening colours delight the eye, first on the branches, then, if I look down, on the ground beneath.

In winter I look out of my window and marvel.  With the departure of the leaves, the trees' intricate  structures are laid bare, and the complexity of their skeletal beauty fully revealed.

But there's even more to it than that.
Each tree is a world unto itself, home to a limitless number of life forms.

Each one harbours a myriad insects, flies and beetles who scuttle about their business under and over the bark.
Each tree plays host to many birds . . . magpies, blackbirds, robins, pigeons, great-tits, blue-tits, wrens and a wide variety of other species, all of whom fly past my window before disappearing into the thick foliage.

And who could overlook the family of highly active squirrels who, in addition to promoting their own welfare, provide teasing  entertainment for my cat!

But let me tell you of the latest gift from these generous trees.
It came when I pulled back the curtains this morning.
 The sun was rising in the south-east and, against the dramatic background of a deep pink sky, the trees' bare branches traced a dramatic picture of delicate lattice-work.

A breath-taking moment . . . a moment, that needs to be shared . . . which is why I'm sitting here, sharing it with you.

But there was more to it than that.
Mid-winter it may have been but, looking closely at the bare branches, it was clear that whereas the plane trees were still trapped in hibernation, the chestnut buds were swelling with the promise of spring.

What matter that the news on the radio was grim, that the headlines on the paper were no better.
 A dramatic winter sunrise, the promise of spring foliage . . .  who could ask for a finer gift to raise the spirits and brighten a February morning?

Do you see why I recommend trees outside the window?