Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Put them in a Tree Museum

Last month I found myself driving out east from Cambridge, and I looked out for signs that winter was on the run. Circling buzzards broke off from spiralling lazily to play and tease each other. Reproduction was on their minds. I drove out by Six Mile Bottom, Dullingham and through the mysterious Devil's Ditch, then past Snailwell and the rude-sounding Frekenham.

East Anglian landscape is dramatic for the intense feeling of freedom and space. Big horizons were especially impressive against skeletal trees. Only the stately Scots Pines wore any green.

But then my reverie was interrupted with a jolt.

First I saw magisterial Scots Pines wearing yellow bands, at waist-level. They'd been sentenced and awaited execution. Further on yellow machines assaulted the landscape, tearing up the rich black soil to make way for a wider highway to make it easier for us to rush from one end of the country to the other in endless pointless journeys.

England is crowded and I often find myself wondering what it was like in those days when our population numbered thousands, not millions, when the land could breathe and wasn't waterproofed by swathes of concrete and tarmac.

All we seem to have left now are tiny scraps of green, and even these are unnatural. They have been cleared and ploughed and ravaged, then in a few places have been allowed (or rather neglected enough) to struggle back to life again.

It's showing my age but I found Joni Mitchell's song going around in my head...

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
Then they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go,
That you don't know what you've got
'Til it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Hey farmer, farmer
Put away that DDT now
Give me spots on my apples
But LEAVE me the birds and the bees
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
'Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

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