L3 (Day 30): Betula Pendula

Along with buddleja, the silver birch, (betula pendula) is often the first tree to set down roots and become established in the most unlikely situations. It grows fast and its white bark seems to split under the stress of holding the slender trunk together as it shoots up. It quickly becomes a tree of ornamental interest, with its beautifully shaped, serrated leaves, that turn from soft green to shimmering autumn gold before being shed.

Its adaptability and aesthetic appeal makes it an attractive specimen to plant when landscaping newly developed building plots in temperate climates.

Even a tree so slight in appearance brings a sense of permanence to a location. It breaks up the urban landscape, provides colour and natural shade in summer. Its leaves play with the light, like the sea, they dance to the vicissitudes of the weather and in winter their absence allows what light and warmth there is to pass through.

In contrast I sense that I have lived my recent years as if I am a tumbleweed.

Wikipedia states: A tumbleweed is a structural part of the above-ground anatomy of a number of species of plants, a diaspore that, once it is mature and dry, detaches from its root or stem, and rolls due to the force of the wind.

This windblown existence is how the plant distributes its seed and reproduces. I do not see any correlation between my life and this aspect of the tumbleweed life cycle, but the detachment at the point of ‘maturity’, the hollowed out centre and endless shifting on the breath of a breeze is me and this cannot continue.

For a wanderer like me, the idea of being able to adjust and settle and make a home is to be respected, but is it possible? Can a tumbleweed become a silver birch?


CLP 04/02/2021

Lockdown 3 (Day 18) On the Streets

By the time I was ready to get out all light had gone from the sky, bar a faint patch to the south-west above the trees on Carrow Hill.

My brisk march lasted ninety minutes, during which I discovered some of the poshest streets of Norwich. They lie beyond the medieval walls, strung out on the gently tilted south-facing slope which is sliced up by the Ipswich Road and the Newmarket Road.

The posh streets have grass verges, are often avenues and the semi-detached and detached houses have gravel driveways, bay windows, side gates to back gardens, garages and many have rooms in the roof. I did not pause to look for house names and those I saw did not stick; none were surprising.

There were few cars being driven this late Saturday afternoon, although some of the driveways had three or four parked up. There were dog walkers, joggers and solo walkers. A “Good evening”, or a nodded acknowledgement of thanks, or acceptance of gratitude was exchanged for making an adequate physical distance possible, were the sum social interactions of my tour.

I discovered a church with modern stain glass windows and a new circuit that joined up parts of the city to my personal map of Norwich for future use.

Harry’s café remains closed for the lockdown, but still brightly illuminated. I am looking forward to visiting it again one day. I approached the city centre as various bells were marking six o’clock. Saturday night and no one about.

I spotted an arched, empty arcade behind locked fencing on Prince of Wales Road. What it was for and why so designed was unexplained.

As I came back along the river bank to Carrow Bridge, I passed a small gathering of young people trying to have a Saturday evening drink together under a willow tree. Should have I reported them for breaking lockdown regulations?

This is grim. I kept on home as icy flecks fell from the overcast sky. No snow here.


CLP 23/01/2021