My how the trees have grown

Creative Challenge, Day Three. Today’s exercise was to listen to a piece of music and think about it. Normally I can squeeze a narrative line out of just about anything, but I did not find it easy with this one. The music repeated and swirled, had a strong drive – which made me think of the relentless motion of train wheels but then it had a delicacy too, which reminded me of the guys I have seen turning metal work on lathes – working with tools moving at great speeds within measurements of microns.

The strongest image that came through for me was of a series of timelapse photography sequences – an overhead shot of a carpark with the cars pulling into and out of car bays, a landscape changing as it rained and people getting on and off trains as they pulled into stations; time being tiny and huge at the same time and for some reason this reminded me of the place I spent a lot of time growing up.

I grew up in a village in the South of England that was quite unknown, I thought. Since our family left, though, a lot of Premier League footballers have moved in and I believe it is quite the place to pick up a property, if you have multiples of millions of dollars to spend.

We were on out bicycles all the time and often on a Saturday I would cycle to the next village a few miles away with a friend. I think of this trip quite a lot. I feel like I did it every weekend for years, but that can not have been the case. There was a big push up the hill if you wanted to keep to the main road, but the main road was busy so we often used to turn up a side road, which was steeper, but had less traffic. Either way, I remember allowing my bike to sway wildly to the right and the left, letting go and catching the handlebar grips in my hand as it moved.

This is where my memory fails me. If I was under interrogation, I would have sworn that we would then cut ‘cross country’ across the heath, where once there was a murder. I remember colours of green and lavender from the heather and a hill to the right with dull pink sand, but I may have just completely made that up, because if there is one thing I do remember, it that our garden was pretty much all clay in keeping with the area and so where the sand would have come from I do not know.

Then there were a series of smaller roads, or lanes and there was a choice of two routes in general, depending on what mood we were in.

To try and jog my memory I got onto google maps and loaded street view. The first impression I got was that a load of white paint and ‘traffic calming’ furniture had been added to the road, the second was that someone had seen fit to erect a sign welcoming drivers to the village and to place infront of it a section of white picket fence, cut on a jaunty diagonal, like an asymmetrical fringe.

I slowly inched my way up the photo to where, in my memory, we turned left into a car park and from there across the heath, but could not find the way in through the trees. Now I know the frustration felt by a prince trying to get through an enchanted forest.

Slowly I swung the Point of View around and moved slowly back to turn back into the road that once led home.

Moving down the road, I was struck by how green it all was. We only knew our immediate neighbours, really so there was not much to recognise until I passed a familiar laneway and realised I was moving parallel to the fence that our neighbours had put in.

Suddenly, there was an unfamiliar wall and gate with a name plaque on it – the name of our house. It did not look like our house at all. The wooden gate that my father had built, which had failed to stop countless cats and a horse (not mine, long story) getting out on the road was gone and replaced with a metal grill.

But the trees were still there. Trees that had been replaced after Dutch Elm disease had wiped a few out. Trees that had been there when we arrived or planted shortly thereafter; and my, how the trees had grown.


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