I recently began reading Oak and Ash and Thorn by Peter Fiennes. I will willing admit it was the title that grabbed me and the cover art that sealed the deal in the bookstore. I will also say, that it has added an element of sophistication to my bookshelf.
The prose, I have since found out, is just as delightful as the cover. The poetry that is promised in the title can be seen in the pages that I have read. While I am nowhere near the UK and my knowledge of trees can be summed up with: “I love them”, the book still makes it easy to envision that old forests that Fiennes is walking through.
I began to reminisce about when I was in fourth grade and my greatest heart’s desire was to be botanist. That was after all what the internet of the nineties told me was a person who could recognize every leaf. The dream died swiftly when I came to the conclusion that there were too many leaves to memorize and not enough hours in a day. On reflection, I don’t know if memorizing leaves is a thing that a botanist does, but it made a lot of sense to my younger self.
I now wonder about the trees I pass on my walks. While I have not figured out what trees I am sharing the park with, I now observe them closely for clues. As I stroll (and on occasion, power walk), I consider the trees and wonder, are these one of those pesky conifers? Does this tree actually belong here? Or did it migrate over? Is it happy?
I will say that there is nothing quite like walking surrounded by trees, no matter their origin. There are of course the health benefits of daily stroll. But just like our skyscrapers, these trees pull our eyes to the sky, but unlike the cold steel buildings, trees welcome you to climb them.