Chopping it all down - by Jo Carroll


is all that remains of my apple tree.

It was, once, impressive. Its blossom hung heavy in the spring. I sat in its shade to read in the summer. It kept my neighbour and I in apples through the autumn.

Then last year it began to look sorry for itself. My tree-man (everyone should have a tree-man - or woman - someone who knows all about trees and shrubs and comes round every now and then to give them a serious talking-to, and sometimes a serious pruning) frowned, broke off a twig or two and said it had a hint of green, leave it, it might recover.

I left it - but, as everything else burst into bloom this spring, my apple tree stayed resolutely bald. It was obviously an ex-apple-tree. It was gone before. Its fruiting days were done. And so it has had to come down.

It wasn't fun, taking it down. It involved a lot of noise and lugging logs up and down the garden and general harrumphing because (to be honest) I loved my apple tree and was sad to see it carted about with such lack of ceremony. But sometimes, needs must.

And in its place - at the moment - nothing but space. Potential. Decisions to be made about plants, or shrubs, or maybe just to grass it over and put up a swing for the grandchildren. Or a pond? (But next door have cats ...) The garden looks surprised, the unfamiliar light given surviving plants a different hue.

Sometimes my writing it like that. I write because I love it - but sometimes my pages of scribble need more than an edit, they need the delete button. And that's fine - for in place of the drivel is potential. Start again. Anything can happen. The blank page is only terrifying if we let it be. Instead it is the seedbed of ideas: some will grow and others will wither and some will develop a shape of their own without any apparent intervention from us.

That, surely, is the joy of writing.

(For those who are interested, the book about my trip to Cuba has not succumbed to the delete button but is currently with a copy editor. It should come out towards the end of June - keep an eye on my website for details - )


Lydia Bennet said…
well they say as writers we have to murder our darlings, yours died of natural causes at least! I hope something special takes the place of your tree.
JO said…
Thank you, Lydia - I am planning a Rowan tree - they come attached to myths and legends. My daughter assures me they will protect the garden from witches!!
madwippitt said…
If you choose the right variety of rowan they will also attract birds feeding on the fruit and you can make rowan jelly too - but check you get the right one as the wrong variety can taste horrid!
JO said…
Thanks for the tip, Madwhippit - my wonderful tree man will find one for me - my neighbour and I have a deal - I grow the fruit and she makes the jelly and gives me a pot (a great arrangement, don't you think!!)

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