Some people track their journey from one pub to the next, some by favourite shops, for me it’s trees! I would love nothing more than to spend my days outdoors pottering around the woods but working as a teacher means my journey is spent at the whims of public transport and my day is locked away in a building. I mark the passage of time till I’m back with my family with trees.
As I stand in the winter cold, my children’s goodbyes fading away, the trees at the bus stop are my only companions. Barren of leaves, their black branches silhouette against the early morning sky breaking up the shades of sunrise. Each day is a new palette of pinks and orange fading into the grey as my day begins. Marvelling at the skies is a welcome distraction from the icy wind as I shiver, my gloved hands buried in pockets.
By the time I reach the train station, a drab building against a backdrop of street lights, the clouds have shifted and the colours transformed. Same skies, new shades, the hues of peach and yellow contrast with the blues beyond. The swaying station trees, sparse in their wintry attire, lead the eye past the bleak town skyline to the rugged hills in the distance. These lonely trees hide the grey bricks through summer, add golden colour through autumn and in winter they take on a whole new delicate beauty. Pausing under my railway trees, I meditate, a moment of calm, before joining the masses in the drudgery of the morning commute. Will leaves on the line delay my journey today?
Daydreaming through the window I track the stations, the fields and forests speeding by. The summer blur of greens has turned to blue haze as I peer deeper into wild patches of woodland through the bare branches. Mysterious places invisible to most as they sit engrossed in mobile phones or snoozing cheek squished against the glass. An inquisitive fox often sidles down the line, aware but unfazed by his high speed companions. And all along my journey I mark progress with thickets of sycamores, an ancient oak, horse chestnuts and pine.
Finally I reach my destination, a grim place of drab greys and mismatched seventies flats clashing with modern car parks. Again my trees save me, redirecting my gaze upwards away from this urban landscape. I pause at a solitary giant evergreen, a last moment of calm before I cross the final road, transforming from dreamy SylvaFae into sensible teacher. My work head firmly on I face the day.
Then it’s lunch time, I survived the towers of paperwork and random demands of students, it’s out for a moment of tree therapy. My little oasis of calm away from the noise and bustle of college life. I shiver on my bench, nobody else is mad enough to sit out but this is my space. I blank out the traffic noise and listen to the breeze through the branches above. Finally, chilled but recharged, I head back in to face the afternoon’s trials.
I retrace my steps viewing the reverse picture of sunset purples through my trees. The tree branch scenes take on a happier view as they now mark my journey back to my children and a hug from my husband. And waiting at the end is our very own willow tree waving us in as we arrive back home. I would love nothing more than to spend my days outdoors but a slightly mad nemophilist can go on a sylvanian ramble anywhere.