Sunday, 21 April 2013

Actual love and actual trees

An astonishingly lovely and touching weekend. All the relatives were here, from the age of one to the age of eighty. Today, my sister organised a massed tree-planting, for my dad. He died today, two years ago.

The funny thing is that I had got the date wrong in my head. For some reason, I thought it was the 22nd. So as the tiny great-nephews and nieces and the small cousins ran around shrieking in the Scottish sun, and we got our hands filthy, putting young fruit trees in the dark earth, and dogs barked and rumbled, and everyone laughed their heads off, I had no anniversary feeling. It would be tomorrow that I should mark the auld fella’s passing. This was a free day, all life and light, before the stone wall of the memorial.

It’s brilliant that it turned out that way. Sometimes my vagueness and goofiness really do come in handy. I woke with no presentiment of doom, but ran down to the field and worked for an hour with the mare, and went in to see all the relations for breakfast. I laughed and made jokes and had no sorrow hanging over me.

Now I look through all the pictures and suddenly realise today was in fact the day, and all that love and sweetness and pleasure still sit in me. There is nothing mournful at all, just that antic feeling one gets after seeing a lot of people close to one’s heart, as if every atom in the body is dancing. It could not have been more perfect if it tried.

Yesterday, for my own private memorial, as it was Scottish Grand National Day, I put on an accumulator in Dad’s name. He was really more about betting on horses than putting trees in the ground. It is the Sister and the Brothers and I who love the trees. (If our father had been here today, he would have made kind noises about the plums and apples and damsons, and then asked where the Guinness was.) The acker, in true Dad fashion, was going great guns until the last race, when Nicky Henderson’s sure thing missed the start and got beaten a head in the bumper. That, too, was completely appropriate. I could hear the ghostly sound of laughter from the great William Hill in the sky.

When I talk about love and trees, which I do a great deal, I am often being abstract and metaphorical and symbolic. Today really was actual love and actual trees. And, you know, you just can’t beat them.


Today’s pictures:

I took a lot of photographs, but oddly enough, this is the one I like the most, even though it is completely out of focus. I love the smudged figures on the sharp grass. It feels like a bit of a life lesson: a thing does not have to be pristine and immaculate to make one smile.

21 April 10 4032x3024

The planting of the trees:

21 April 11 3647x2736

Me, showing Dad’s tree to the youngest great-niece:

21 April 15 3024x4032

Cousin, playing the Londonderry Air on the Northumbrian pipes:

21 April 16 3024x4032

The Younger Niece, with one of the Great-Nephews:

21 April 16 3024x4032-001

Lovely Stepfather, working very hard, with delightful cousins:

21 April 10 3016x2922

The Sister and The Aunt:

21 April 17 3561x2871

Running relatives:

21 April 18 4032x3024

With the hill in the background:

21 April 19 4020x1922

Meanwhile, in the quiet of the paddock, Myfanwy the Pony is enjoying the sun:

21 April 19 3024x4032

Stanley the Dog has a ruddy great stick:

21 April 20 2722x2440


21 April 21 3024x4032

And my Best Beloved is mooching:

21 April 22 4032x3024

The hill:

21 April 30 4020x2412


  1. I'll say it again: you really should add a box saying "lovely" to your reactions list!

    These photos are exactly that: LOVELY!

  2. What a fantastic day, G would have been so Happy to see you all so together .... x

  3. Someone played the Northumbrian pipes? There is no beating that. No, really. A lone piper is IT, the summit of how to mark an occasion.

  4. Very much thinking of you.
    Wonderful photographs and oh the trees.
    Love and trees.

  5. Oh the trees, the love, the family - human and animal. You are so very lucky to have your tribe that close and it seems from how you write that you do actually love each other. That is really very special. I agree we need a 'lovely' box to tick.

  6. And the little red coat, hand in hand.....

  7. And the Londonderry Air...the most beautiful and haunting folk song ever, surely.

  8. What a wonderful way to pay tribute to your Dad. Do love all the familial pictures - just 'lovely'. :)

    Quite understand getting the date wrong. For some reason I had a completely different date stuck in my head when getting my Dad's headstone engraved so it now reads rather imperfectly like it's been smudged.

    Take care xx

  9. Aw poo, 'Pat in Belgium' made the comment I wanted to!

    LOVE Stanley the dandy's happiness at having such a big stick!


Your comments give me great delight, so please do leave one.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin