The Book of Trees How to tell chestnut from sycamore or rowan from beech or fir? Walking with my head buried in the book of trees, I fail the test of cluster of five leaves, mottled edge, berries or long pod. The Scots have river, firth, burn, loch and sea.
I know Sahara and Sonora,
the desert dust and storm,
the Atlantic swells and Pacific’s
crashing surf. I learned to swim in the shallows of the Arabian Gulf, spent summers near the Indian Ocean.
In the cool air and light of a Scottish trail, I hear my father-in-law’s voice, copper beech, chestnut and lime, a river running backwards, a yew tree older than the churchyard. Is it memory that we gain or remembering what we once knew whispered, before the fairy tale and childhood rhyme?