Kirkby Lonsdale Two trees.

Kirkby Lonsdale Photo: a fantastic Kirkby Lonsdale Photograph Featuring Two trees.

Photograph Taken On Saturday, November 26, 2016

He had always been a bit of a loner but when a magpie had picked up a seed and dropped it in a crack it wasn't his choice where he had grown up. OK it was a pretty spot but it was difficult to have friends and move about. There were others further away down the pavement and it was nice to know they were there but he preferred his own bit of space where he was, out on the promontory. In his youth he loved this outlook, towards the south, the fresh prevailing winds and just simply watching life go by. Walkers, some in brightly coloured outdoor clothing, broke the monotony, passing by or deviating to come and explore the rocks around him. The weather varied greatly: he experienced everything from a complete drenching to being parched in summer sun, right through to shivering in winter blizzards. It was an exposed spot and there had been a few times when lightning crashed to the earth terrifying close. But the fear was over in a flash. What really scared him most was sheep nibbling on his lower limbs. Life seemed pretty straightforward for a tree with the usual seasonal pattern. Although if he was brutally honest it started to become a bit of a pain especially when once a year his nuts fell off telling him another winter was around the corner. He slept through the winter as much as he could. The wind would howl around him, the frost creeping up around his middle. Even though he was well insulated, the cold ate at him. But most of all he didn't like the dark, and he wished he was a bit closer to the others at night. For companionship. He had been rooted to the spot, sadly without excitement, as the years had ticked by and by the time he was sixty years old he had grown quite large. Not old for a tree, mind, but mature. Nah, that was a lie. He was young at heart: the sap was still flowing, although his bark might be a bit flakey. But this winter had been harsh and he had slumbered until late March before he became aware of a glimpse of sunlight peeping through his branches He came awake very slowly. So much so that it was many days before he bothered to take a look around. When he did he was relieved to see the landscape was as he had remembered it. The limestone pavement stretched out behind him, sloping gently downwards from where he stood. Off to the west was a wooded hilltop, out across sheep filled fields. And to the south and east the landscape opened out into the rolling and dramatic beauty of the Yorksh.........Hang on a sec!!! What's that?!! The cheeky little shhhh......! He didn't know what to say...what to think. After all, that space on the pavement had always been empty: free of vegetation. But now there was another tree! Was he seeing right? Or was he imagining, still stuck in his winter dreams? No, he was sure. There hadn't been one there when he dozed off last November. And there hadn't been one there any other year before either! But he had to admit, looking at the new arrival from behind, it was kind of cute. Nice smooth bark: slim limbs and shapely trunk. Unusual type he thought but he was no expert on tree species: couldn't tell a sycamore from an acorn tree. However, little did he know. They were about to become friends. Not that they had a lot of choice, fixed to the channels in the rock below their feet. They didn't go anywhere. They never touched each other. Never exchanged a word. Yet as spring warmed into summer and they filled out with leaves, they felt a common companionship, sharing each day together. Just thoughts passed between each other. They smiled together in the sunshine too. And soon the big tree admitted to himself he had never felt happier. He even chuckled to himself when he saw the low hanging fruits on the other tree being nibbled by a goat with long horns that wandered in from somewhere across the hills. Hmmm. He wondered what it would feel like if it took a shine to his nuts? Anyhow, daydreams and fantasies filled his days through the year, and decade after decade, thereafter. It was late one summer, he couldn't really tell after how many years, that some young, loud humans arrived on the sun-warmed limestone pavement. They sat in the sunshine drinking wine through the afternoon and late on started putting up a couple of small tents in a nook in the rocks. They were noisy but having fun, and soon he smelt the aroma of something cooking on a disposable barbeque. They laughed and joked, the sound carrying towards him on a gentle warm breeze. Later the sun set and the light started to dim as the evening air cooled. Aaaahhh! a happy scene! He was just beginning to doze when he suddenly became aware of a thumping sound...with a bit of an edge. He listened to it for a bit, curious to what sound it was, even though it sounded pastoral, not threatening. But something told him......he looked out in terror. There were flames, dancing high. The people were jumping about and hollering. Drunken. Sparks rose in the sky, with the smoke, as the fire grew, illuminating all around, little black manic figures against the firelight. And then he saw. His friend hacked down. Murdered. The axe was swinging down on it's main parts, chopping up chunks that were hurled on the fire. He tried to scream, to shriek, to cry, but all that happened was that his leaves quivered on his branches. He felt sick but could not retch and anger beyond belief. Helplessness. And loss: loss beyond any measure of nothingness. He wanted to curl up and die, disappear from this world, but he could not. Eventually the fire died down and total darkness descended. The humans collapsed in their tents after drunkenly fornicating on the rocks in the light of the dying embers. He didn't want to look out in the morning. But he had no choice. The world was always at his feet. The tents were gone. Tossed litter and unburnt branches scattered like bones at a Tibetan funeral around a blackened patch on the light grey rock. The world disgusted him. He hated every day after that and he was grateful that a November snowstorm brought winter early so that he could try to sleep bad memories away. But the dark months were filled with nightmares that gnawed at his soul whilst he slumbered. He didn't get to sleep properly until mid February. So, later, he woke with a start to discover it was already late March. It was a beautiful dry, sunny morning with a clear blue sky. The air was still. Not a cloud in sight. But all around, the land was covered in bright, sparkling white snow. It even covered the charred and blackened area on the rock where the bonfire had been. But, beautiful as the fresh snow was he realised it only made his world look emptier. He was utterly downcast. He thought, what could he ever look forward to again? He drifted into mindlessness: perhaps a couple of hours. A movement on the outer fringe of his awareness suddenly brought him back into the real world. He straightened his limbs a little to see. There was a small figure striding confidently through the powdery snow, toes kicking it up in little clouds as they headed from west to east across his view. He watched. Stylish winter attire. A woolly bobblehat. At that distance he reckoned it was a female. Youngish, he thought. Yes, he was right. He lost sight of her as she reached the base of the limestone pavement outcrop but sure enough her little head appeared a couple of minutes later as she climbed up and over its edge. She moved carefully, for the eroded surface was horrifically awkward to walk on without slipping down through the gaps and snapping a leg. She moved about, first going one way, then back, and around as if searching. And then she stopped and started kicking the snow aside with her boots. Suddenly he realised where she was stood as the stark blackness of the fire's ashes were uncovered. He was transfixed. How had she known it was there? What was it to her? Why? And as he watched on, amazed, she knelt on the snow. He saw her pull off a glove and reach into the ash with a forefinger. When it was black she smeared it in a horizontal line across each cheek, below her eyes. Wow, he thought, so strange! Woah! Did she hear him or sense what he was thinking? She looked straight up to towards him. He would have shrunk away if he could under her gaze, but it was so direct, as if she saw into his soul. Suddenly she stood up, and carefully but deliberately walked across the snow covered limestone pavement towards him. He might have shivered, a little nervous as she came closer, closer until she was under his fringe of branches. He looked down as she reached out and put her arms around his trunk. Her hands didn't quite meet due to his girth, but immediately he felt her warmth as she hugged that big old tree: such an incredible feeling as she rested a cheek on his bark. And she clung to him, silently for several minutes as he swayed gently with emotion. No one had ever done that to him before. He wondered what it might feel like to weep, like a willow.......but...... It was just but a brief encounter in a long life, for she then let go, stepped back and walked away, a dark dot against the snow receding into the distance, and eventually, out of sight. He never did see her again. Remember those lone trees. Give them a hug, and do the world a little good!View image on Flickr

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