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So normally I don’t go investigate much that happens in the centre sort of tourist area here in Bristol because I don’t care for that sort of thing and don’t like being stuck in a crowd near children who might emit high-pitched noises.

But as I walk through this bit on my way to and from the pool, and to and from my office, I have been known to spot things that I begrudgingly enjoy. Like a few weeks ago there were some cows in a wee pen. I don’t really know why there were there – someone explained it to me but I didn’t catch what they were saying. Either way, the cows didn’t seem to care, and so I watched them for quite some time. I have mixed feelings about encountering cows. In Cornwall, I find myself fleeing them rather a lot – either when I was trying to get to and from my halls and ASDA (via the local cow field), or when I returned on holiday and my friends and I went for a long walk only to happen upon a bunch of cows – my instinct is to flee immediately. But the cows I’ve encountered here in Bristol seem alright. There are some in the woods up near the Suspension Bridge, which I quite like because it seems weird to have cows just wandering about in a wood, and then these centre cows which were purely for admiring purposes.

Anyhow, I digress.

A week or two ago, I was walking home from the pool, and happened upon the Festival of Nature. There was a tent set up by the Woodland Trust and I saw they were giving away trees. Now, I’m a sucker for anything that’s being given away, it brings about the same feeling of elation I used to get at the end of a birthday party when you got a goody bag. It’s a random free treat! How wonderful!

In typical fashion, I didn’t go in the tent right away, but observed it from a reasonable distance. This stalking thing is the first step for me in all interactions with strangers. I watched, I observed. I shuffled a bit closer, then went down to the next tent and observed slyly from the corner of my eye. When all the talking people were otherwise engaged, I braved taking a step into the tent and found that the giving away of trees seemed to be real.

Like a crow with a new treasure, I stored this little gem of information in my tiny brain and shuffled home. Next step was trying to figure out what to do with this information.

I very much wanted a free tree. A gift tree!

This is a very Canadian affection, this tree thing. When an old flatmate in London was trying to figure out what to get for her friend’s new baby, I suggested a tree. My friends here are getting married in a couple of years, and I’m thinking about what kind of tree I’ll get them. It’s true – so many of my memories of Big Things back home involve at some point or other a tree being planted. Or being used as a marker.

Anyhow, I texted my friend ItalianLady and asked if she’d like a tree, and we went back and forth for a while – and I did have occasion to explain the Canadian tree giving thing and all of a sudden the Japanese maple she had been given to celebrate her wedding made a whole lot more sense – and she agreed that she would happily receive the tree. She said to not trouble myself about going back to get one on her account, and I said I wouldn’t, which of course is not true. But the thing is it wasn’t any trouble at all, rather it was An Adventure.

Possibly only in my mind, but so many things are.

I went back the next day, and walked past the tree tent a couple of times, then decided they looked okay as people, and then presented myself and asked in amazement if it was true, and they probably thought I was a bit weird (which is also true) and they told me that it was a trade: I gave them a tree story, and they gave me a tree. There were so many to choose from, and I started babbling away to the lady explaining about the Canadian habit of tree-giving. Brilliant! She loved it. I was instructed to write it down, and in return I was given my choice of tree.


I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t recognise any of the native trees by name, but I picked a Hawthorn as that’s what she advised. Over the moon and beyond pleased with myself I fairly skipped home with my new tree (which in my mind was quickly becoming a pet), and informed ItalianLady that we had a Hawthorn on our hands and when and where were we going to plant it.

Probalem is, these trees grow to something ridiculous like 15 metres and so you can’t put that in your average sized garden. Undaunted, we decided we’d do some gorilla-gardening and install the tree in a local park type place in the near future.

Meantime, I minister to the tree everyday. And by that I mean talk to it. I have no idea of how to care for a tree – I’m the worst gardener that ever there was. But I’m super supportive, intellectually at least.