It’s autumn and the thick, scored branches have begun to fade but over the years they have spread, embracing the garden and smaller inhabitants. I used to have to screw up my eyes to appreciate its form blending softly into the backdrop of fencing, overlook its furrows, its gnarled knots but now, the cloudiness of my vision allows me to do so without effort. Look at its trunk. Obviously, I don’t remember it as a young sapling but from what I can remember, it, too, has spread. Its drooping leaves have grown each year in proportion with its trunk, their canopy like a crinoline skirt swishing in the wind, its one flaw being the way the tenuous grasp of the fragile leaves can be exposed by a sudden gust.
At the beginning of springtime, there were sticky buds oozing honeyed mess all over the place, an attempt to scatter seeds and carry on the thread. Then there came the blossoms, conical cream candles waving in the breeze. But now, now their creaminess has faded to fawn; their shape just a memory from before it became hot and then cooled down to how it is now; but the scenario is different. Instead of hope, there is fulfilment and memories. Instead of the fresh scent of the first cut of the lawn, my focus is turned to the barnacle-like conkers beginning to swell. Soon, they will drop off and as they lay on the ground, children will be there on the other side of the fence to collect the spoils eagerly. I don’t mind this part, it’s natural. But I do object to the ones who come armed with weapons to be tossed into the air, bringing down the conkers before they are ready. I can sympathise with that now.