rural wanderings i


Westonbirt arboretum, Gloucestershire. A Sunday in mid-October, by chance in the four-week window of the best days to visit, autumn pulsing through towers of green. A normal year would have seen the end of reds and browns, but this year autumn was two weeks late, and the sweat of summer still hung in the air. Many of the trees had only just started ageing, purple flushing the leaves on the top branches, although some were in the glorious moments of their dying – death bringing out the most beautiful in trees.

Trees. Holly, fir, magnolia. Weeping Japanese maple, with its feathery fingers. The fat fireproof trunk of a sequoia. Crushing juniper leaves brought the faint scent of last night’s gin. There were other flavours, hints of caramel and pineapple, and an avenue of trees pointing to the sunset on the roof of Westonbirt House.

Pity the bored children, dragging trainers through mud. Perhaps they hadn’t come from London, where people move about only to stop the dust from settling on them, and there is one tree to thirty people, not the other way round.


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