Still me

My photo
Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday, 19 May 2008: The death of a noble tree

This week I was forced to remove a huge tree in the grounds of Thatchwick Cottage. Its root system had started to crack my wall some time ago but after this summer's rain, I could no longer ignore the damage. Gert, my regular tree trimmer, did an excellent job to hew down the enormous tree whose branches hung over my wall, part of the road and the pavement in front of my house. I fled to my study from eight in the morning until lunchtime when the sound of the electric saws ceased. My dear friend, who is a well-known ceramic artist, is donating a special bowl for a birdbath to place on the waist-high stump as a peace offering to my garden birds... and here is a poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins in memory of that tree.

Binsey poplars, felled 1879

My aspens dear, whose airy cages quelled,
Quelled or quenched in leaves the quenching sun,
All felled, felled, are all felled;
Of a fresh and following folded rank
Not spared, not one
That dandled a sandalled
Shadow that swam or sank
On meadow and river and wind-wandering
weed-winding bank.

O if we but knew what we do
When we delve or hew-
Hack and rack the growing green!
Since country is so tender
To touch, her being so slender,
That, like this sleek and seeing ball
But a prick will make no eye at all,
Where we, even where we mean
To mend her we end her,
When we hew or delve:
After-comers cannot guess the beauty been.
Ten or twelve, only ten or twelve
Strokes of havoc unselve
The sweet especial scene,
Rural scene, a rural scene;
Sweet especial rural scene.


Anonymous said...'s always so sad to take down a tree or witness such event. The birdbath is a beautiful idea. I'll be around for the week just chillaxin' (as my oldest son would say :) ) Though may go to the beach for a few days later in the week. On Sunday mornings, instead of jogging, Maggie and I walked. Saw lovely bees on flowers and the tiniest, sweetest little snail scooting along with a pretty, spiraled shell on its back. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. A friend just gave me Me and Marley, a story of a man and his yellow lab. It's cute so far...a less than obedient yellow lab. :) Hope you are having a lovely weekend.
Hugs ~

Kari & Kijsa said...

What a loss...kijsa recently lost a tree in her front stood for generations and then it fell in a heavy windstorm!

Have a blessed and wonderful day!

smiles, kari & kijsa

Theresa said...

Losing a big tree is like losing a good friend . Hugs to you .

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...


Thanks so much for your good wishes for my Montreal trip. We had a lovely time and I look forward to posting about it.

Alas, no one was able to look after the birdbaths in my absence, although luckily I am told it rained all weekend so perhaps Mother Nature looked after them.

I admire this post of yours. I too feel that the felling of a tree is a little like a death....but you have chosen wisely to honour the tree by erecting a birdbath on the stump. I can't think of a better way to 'give back' the little birds which add such joy to our lives.

The birdbath pictured here is lovely; how many do you have on your property?

Mary said...

We've had many trees taken down due to disease or age - but the worst was when Hurricane Fran hit Raleigh several years back. Four big oaks fell hitting the cottage and turning my car into a pancake!!

Sorry you lost your tree - it's always sad. I have decorative bowls for water, and mini statues, standing on tree stumps - I like how they look. Your new birdbath will be lovely I know.

Anonymous said...

Hope your week is going well. I've got the week off before summer school begins next week. It's been lovely.

Janet said...


So sorry about your tree: we have several that need to come down, but I hate to lose them ( and the many thousands of dollars it will cost). I will put it off a bit longer. I love the idea of the bird bath to keep the birdies happy, hydrated and clean.


Kelli said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your tree. I think the birdbath is a wonderful idea!

willow said...

Oh Eleanor, I feel your pain. I absolutely hate it when a dear old tree passes on. We lost one, too, not too long ago.

You know how much I love Gerald Manley Hopkins! Thanks for posting this wonderful poem.

fairmaiden said...

Eleanor, Do you know what has happened to Alexandra. Her blog is gone. If you talk to her can you tell her that Fairmaiden at Sea Cottage and Lady Jane are wondering, praying, and miss her already. I do hope she has not been hacked and violated.