A beautiful little leaning tree we pass on the dog walk… A favourite watering hole of a mad four legged one. No wonder it leans. It leans but it still has a purpose.
I was looking at an email sent from school setting out the upcoming year end exams. Day after day of exams. Often two a day. But what is the purpose. Whose purpose do they represent. Are they really Hawklad’s purpose. Apart from History, Geography, English and Maths, would he freely choose the other subjects. Would he put himself through these exams. Even with his favourite subjects, would he not focus on other areas rather than the predetermined ones set for him by the Government.
A Government Minister was waffling on about how our children should be focusing on this subject and that subject. They were doing too much of this and not enough of that…. Has he bothered to ask what the children want. He’s thinking about the purpose specified by the economy, not the purpose which necessarily the children would pick for themselves.
Ok I get the point of learning the basics but why should some out of touch numpty in London determine which subjects my child is taught. Determine which areas are looked at. Which textbooks are read. Set the teaching method. Determines how much religious education is taught. What art is studied. Basically setting everything…..
This old tree has seen some life. A few too many lightning strikes means it’s nowhere near the size it was a few years back. It’s seen a fair few Christmases. One more to add to the list today.
Since the world changed a few years back I have made a point of buying myself a present for Christmas . I don’t know why. Just kind of started. It’s not a big present. Just something. It feels like a connection with a much different world.
Well guess what. Guess who forgot to buy someone something. That gave me a chuckle.
Then a thought struck me. What about that tree. Our tree. When was the last time it was remembered at this time. Well it was today. I marched across and gave it a hug.
Bit of a theme going here. Been thinking about the 20 odd years I’ve now lived in this part of the world. Looking out over the garden fence. Over the farmers fields and towards the next set of hills in the distance.
A lot has happened in that time. Parenting and family. Becoming an Aspergers home. Bereavement, grief and single parenting. Full time career to stay at home parent making ends meet through part time work. Isolation. Homeschooling. Greater awareness of what it means to live and finally starting to get my priorities right. Of the five neighbours we had when we moved in, 2 have passed away, 2 have moved into care homes and the last remaining neighbour is largely housebound. Yes new neighbours but they so far have kept to themselves.
And what about that view. Actually the only constant. That tree is a bit smaller and a bit lob sided due to a couple of lightning strikes. But that’s it. Nothing else has changed. That’s so reassuring.
Captain Chaos is carefully guarding his new great tasting toys.
That Apple Tree needs a serious trim. I had a go today. Managed to fall out of the tree. Bruised shoulder but the fall ended with a fabulous forward role which was perfectly landed. The boy has still got the moves…..
School definitely still has some moves. Sadly not always great ones.
We are in the early stages of a long road trying to manage and help with our son’s serious anxieties. Anxieties about illness, unclean things, viruses and diseases. It’s so easy to tip him further into the realms of excessive hand washing and isolation. Yesterday started off heading a little too close to the rocks. News broke that the small local cafe had to close as two members of staff had tested positive for the pesky pandemic. I’ve managed to keep that from him so far. I can imagine his reaction to the thought that the pandemic was only a couple of miles away.
So while I was managing the news – SCHOOL got to work. Firstly an email was sent to him letting him know that the virus had arrived at the school. Then we got to the Food Technology lesson. All about poisoning, bacteria and viruses associated with food. James was asked to research the main offenders, the symptoms and the associated health risks. So now food has been added to his worry list.
A rather cheesed off email was sent to school…..
And today in Science it was all about diseases. The class being asked to research childhood diseases and viruses. Further they were asked to look at the risk of inherited medical problems.
This is a little tree which is close to our house. It sits at the side of the farmers field which backs onto our garden. It’s close by as a couple of my garden football shots have nearly hit it….. In the years that we have lived here it has never grown. It just seems to lean over a little further each year. I know how it feels…..
So many questions today. So many school work queries.
“Dad what are your thoughts on Gladstone‘s and Disraeli‘s political reforming achievements. They didn’t go far enough and do you think their colonial record negated what good they did do?”
“Dad what do you know about DNA structure and it’s impact on identical and fraternal twins?”
“Dad how would you write the mass of the earth in standard notation?”
“Dad in Animal Farmwhat does the character Moses represent and his relationship toSoviet history?”
“Dad have you ever studied John Agard’s poem FLAGS. Is it about the dangers of patriotism?”
“Dad I can’t get my head round French Verb Conjugation. Can you explain it to me?
As any self respecting parent would do I looked suitably vacant and thought wishfully back to the questions about which was my favourite Tellytubby. I was good at those questions.
Will not harvest these until October. Try them now and they are the perfect definition of the phrase ‘beyond sour’. Wait till October and they become just ‘sour’. Sour is as good as this tree gets. It’s still a blessing, just a blessing that makes your eyes water…..
If only you could reattach them when the Yorkshire winds knock them off. It’s a hard life being an old Apple Tree on an exposed hill top. Even in summer, it gets a right buffeting.
I remember when we first moved here and thinking how rickety that old tree looked. What would last longer, the tree or the very old wooden conservatory. Well the tree outlived the wooden structure easily. What I didn’t visualise was how much of the cycle of life that tree would see. So much life and death. Hope then devastation and then a restart.
I was trying to think of a better word than restart. Reboot? Rebirth? Renewal? Reset? Even Resilience. Maybe Growth works. Starting again. That’s another one to ponder.
I guess the best option is something to do with the cycle of life. Constantly making our way around that big rollercoaster. Bit like the old Apple tree. Each year gets a buffeting but still produces apples.
It’s so odd, I was going to talk about some stuff but suddenly the words have failed me. I can visualise them just can’t get them into sentences. Maybe it’s lack of sleep, a few tears this morning, worries about Hawklad, maybe it’s frustrations. I’ve noticed that the last few days I have absolutely hammered myself in exercise training. Over trained. Maybe I’m just dealing with stuff. I will stop waffling on. Let’s see if those particular words flow on another day.
One of those weather days. Kinda sunny, kinda cloudy, kinda windy, kinda warm, kinda chilly, kinda dry and kinda wet. I guess it’s a kinda Yorkshire day. Rather excitingly I walked to that Tree today and back. Keep it quiet, Hawklad doesn’t know. He was too busy watching a Sherlock episode. It was funny as I had just finished my fitness programme for the morning. Definitely slightly out of breath. Probably not the best time to try and sing The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music. Probably better trying to sing in the more deeper tones of four fine Yorkshire born Rock front men, Joe Cocker, Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company), David Coverdale (Deep Purple, Whitesnake) or Joe Elliot (Def Leppard). Better off probably dressing like them as well, rather than Julie Andrews. That would kinda make more sense.
I’ve now got this bizarre thought in my head. Monty Python skipping over that hill, signing that song about The Alps, all in a deep Yorkshire accent while wearing wellies and a knitted handkerchiefs on their heads. That’s kinda disturbing.
Changing the subject rapidly. I was doing today’s workout outside in the garden when that Tree caught my eye. I thought about it being months since I ventured there. I decided it was kinda time to revisit there. Sit a few minutes under the branches. Well I did. That’s where I noticed that I was slightly out of breath. But I kinda have an excuse. It was straight after my workout. A slightly longer one.
I have this silly little ritual. Every year I add on one more minute to my exercise sessions. The thinking is that yes that’s one year older but my body is coping with one more minute of workout than it did last year – so I must still be improving. Rather than getting older I’m getting fitter. Kinda getting better, still improving. Well that’s the thinking anyway….. Kinda makes sense to me.
Three years ago I was trying to get my head round organising my partners funeral. At the same time I was trying to empty my mums house and wrap up her loose ends. My head was completely spinning. I was in full zombie grief mode.
One family personal trauma doesn’t stop the world from spinning. It carries on regardless. So I was immediately faced with continuing the application for our sons Education Health Care Plan. Sat bewildered at my partners desk trying to find on my own the words for the final application form. The words came so easy when it was two minds. Now the one failed me. Then the black pen stopped working. Couldn’t find another and the form had to be completed in black on the pain of ……
So I set off to the shops to buy a pen. But quickly I was lost in a sea of grief and unanswered questions. An hour later I found myself at a random garden centre. Clearly a good choice for stocking up on pens. I wandered around aimlessly looking at plant after plant. The cctv must have been focusing on me as I was clearly not acting like your ordinary shopper. Then I came across a sad looking tree. Actually more like a snapped twig. The label said ‘discounted Pear Tree due to damage’. I felt sorry for this broken life form pushed to a dark corner of the store. Now no more that an afterthought. It felt like me.
So I went in looking for pens and came out with Groot (Marvel Universe).
Over the next three years Groot has grown and is now about 5 feet tall. Looks surprisingly healthy. AND this year for the first time it’s produced pears. Just FOUR pears. But it’s not the fruit crop which is important here. It’s something completely different. It’s HOPE. When personal tragedy strikes your whole world is turned upside down. It will never be the same again. You move from creating memories together to replaying memories in isolation. But you can’t live your life in those memories. Life has to go on. In my case life did go on. Yes I miss her dearly. Yes sadness always feels just round the corner. Yes I’ve become increasingly isolated from society. But life has gone on. Sons Education Health Care Plan was approved. I’ve changed careers. Progress has been made with Dyslexia. The house no longer feels like a funeral parlour largely down to the addition of a barking mad dog. I’ve increased the range of foods I can destroy. And Groot is thriving. That gives me hope.
“Dad did you just say a money tree. Can you really get a money tree?”
Son will often take things very literally. I’ve talked about this before. It is something which is fairly common with autism. I must admit I did this as a kid. You often find yourself trying to re-explain phrases that you often through into conversations (I am sure my parents had to do a similar thing).
My explanation of a money tree was rudely interrupted by Captain Chaos.
“Dad the pup is running round the garden with a sock. Correction. He is now burying the sock.”
I really can’t wait for the Sock Tree to grow….
Then we started thinking about other really useful trees we wish we could grow in the garden
The Money Tree (obviously) or if that’s a problem then we would settle for a Pay Your Bills Tree,
The Hugging tree – readily available hugs would be nice,
The one our cat can climb without getting stuck Tree,
The Anxiety Absorbing Tree,
The Children’s Clothes Tree – not having to constantly go to the sewing basket and fix knee and elbow holes would be lovely,
The Pancake Tree – would have been really useful today after my rather soggy attempts,
The Remote Control Tree – why do remote controls have stealth technology built into them, bloody thing is always going missing,
The Brexit Tree – would have to grow within the next few days….,
The Prune itself Tree – really essential after my last eye injury,
The Mirror of Erised Tree – if Harry Potter can have his deepest desires mirror then surely we can have a tree that does the same thing. Having said that I would prefer a Take you back 6 years to happier times Tree,
The Bird Dropping Missile Defence Shield Tree – how good would it be to have a tree that can eliminate bird droppings before they hit the ground,
The Chocolate Tree – now we are talking,
The Donut Tree – horticultural heaven.
So as I go outside to see if the Sock Tree has started to grow (probably next to the Pants Tree) can you think of any better ones.