Avenham Park had an old and famous avenue of trees chopped down a few months ago because they all had Bleeding Canker (it sounds medieval enough, but people can’t get it).
I remember going to this park where I played and rolled my eggs when I was little, skulked and sulked in as a teenager, drank and laid about reading in pre-babies and pushed prams in post-babies and I remember seeing these huge trees laid on the river bank, the smell of broken wood and sap in the air. Very sad. Small Fry cried about it.
I thought about one of the prisoners in the creative writing group that met in the library I used to work in – he’d written and worked and reworked a poem set in this Avenham park about this avenue of trees – the way they frame the path that hugs the north bank of the Ribble and in the summer turn it into a green tunnel with the veined shadows of the leaves beneath your feet. His favourite place for thinking about his children and women and the first place he was going to go when he was out.
And those trees – hundreds of years to grow so this park will not be the same in our life-times. And I’ve been walking there again recently and the thick, toilet-freshener smell of the sap has gone and they’ve carved away the stumps from the bank – either to stop the disease from hiding in the soil or to make room for the new saplings or so we won’t be reminded of what was once there.
And the bare places are covered up now – pink fireweed and curly Japanese knotweed with the white trumpet flowers. Bees, and a crap attempt to fill in the sides of the path with flags and pebbles, and I got used to the bareness and realised you could see along the river much better now, and for the first time it felt okay again.
I was house-bound and missed most of the late Spring and summer so I didn’t see it happen, but I feel better now and it all grew back while I wasn’t there.
So that is one of the things I’ve been doing while I haven’t been writing.