There’s a poem I learned with my dad and it starts like this:
On the windswept hills of Tulla
Where the Claremen place their dead
Four solemn yews stand sentinel
Above a hurler’s head……
It continues on.
I love the image of four trees standing guard on a hilltop, visible to all from every corner of Clare. If you have ever been to Clare, you’ll know trees are few and far between. And as for upright trees standing guard – well, good luck finding one. Trees in Clare – west Clare especially, only grow horizontally. Away from the Atlantic – in case you were wondering. It’s the gales coming in off the sea that do it.
Where we are is a bit more sheltered. Trees get to grow upright. And some of them are stunning. Our little piece of heaven is nestled in between two pockets of woodland. Lying in the bed beside the Little Paddler as she falls asleep, all I see is a curtain of green beech and ash trees. The light filters through them. In the winter when the trees are like skeletons, I look for patterns and shapes in the gaps. There is one tree that leans and when you hold your head a particular way, the gap it forms with its neighbours looks like a giant walking through the woods. But then again that may be the sleep deprivation of a parent to a toddler speaking.
One of the things we did when we were newly married was to buy five small Scots pines. Mr. Fairweather had spent ages explaining how they were his favourite tree. And really, they are quite majestic, once you know what it is you are looking at. You often see them marching along the horizon in single file along old farmland or up an avenue. Occasionally you see stands of them nestled in along the roadside. They have a lovely salmon coloured bark that comes in to its own as they mature and contrasts with the deep green foliage. We eventually went on to line our
lane avenue with them. I have to admit, that when small, they look like nothing more than small Christmas trees. But as they grow – oh boy are they beautiful. Jo Woolf at The Hazel Tree explains it all so much better than I can.
Anyway, my grand plan is to eventually hang my hammock out of this stand of Scots pines. I envision days of lazing about watching the buzzards wheel overhead as I drink my coffee and read my book. The reality is probably that I will have to turf Mr. Fairweather out of it first but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. These are my grand plans for the future.
Plans for the future.
We all make them. We all think that we will get time to follow through on them. But how often does that actually happen? Mr. Fairweather got a phone call the other night to say that one of the guys he used to row with dropped dead suddenly. He has a wife and two young children. Things had been tough finding work etc and he was doing long commutes and working away a good bit but had recently found work back in the country. I imagine they felt that things were starting to settle down. No one expected this. He always struck me as a real happy-go-lucky kind of a chap and a real gentleman. Every so often he would appear along with the kids all on bikes after a big cycle and adventure around the place. They may have just had an ice cream break in the village up the road. He’d want to see how the straw house was getting on and have a catch up with Mr. Fairweather. That will never happen again. We took it for granted when it did. We are all stunned.
I certainly can be guilty of thinking too much about the future. Planning too far ahead. Heaping the jobs on to myself so that some day I will have reached the dream and relax in the rightness of life. I forget that life is right and it’s right now. That I am in fact living the dream. That this is home. God forbid, one of my little family should be taken so early, but if they were, I wouldn’t want to regret not having sat enough with them. Or gone on big adventures with them. Or hugged them enough. So, while I still dream of that hammock under the Scots pines, I am going to be happy lying in the buttercups and daisies in the meantime.