Like Trees in November

Tuesday, 9th November 2004
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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River Calder, Horbury BridgeBy the time I set off to the post office I've missed the sunset and there's just a glow low in the western sky, throwing the bare branches of sycamores and willows by the river into silhouette.

My piece on the felled tree last week was so gloomy that I wondered if I should have included it, especially since I've already referred to the battle over the meadow on at least six occasions, but an e-mail comes today from Anja Skoglund which convinces me that I was right to put it in:

willowI was sad to hear about the felling of the ash despite your efforts to stop it. My parents live in Fredrikstad, a town in southeast Norway. The town is on the coast, where three rivers meet, one of them is the longest river in Norway, Glomma. Not far from my parents' house, on the bank of the river, stood an enormous willow. It had been there for literally ages - my dad likes to think that it was there when the naval hero Tordenskiold fought the Swedish army in those waters in the beginning of the 18th century. Just a few years ago, new apartment buildings were raised on the banks of the river, and they wanted to cut down the willow - they claimed it screened their view. The city council declined their application (fortunately, they weren't totally in the pocket of the developers, willowalthough there are many things to be said about the building of the apartments in the first place). Not long after this, the tree was poisoned. The blame has never been officially placed, but there isn't much doubt. The tree is gone, and along with it so much of the history of the place. It's never just a tree! And even if it was, the beauty of and old tree should be enough to preserve it for everyone to delight in. You have my sympathies.

Anja writes from Copenhagen. It's good for me to realise that I'm not alone in mourning the loss of a tree.

Costa Rica

horse chestut leafI once helped run a children's wildlife group and one of the things we organised was a sponsored competition for the children to make a collection of different kinds of autumn leaves. We asked them to get sponsored at so much per leaf and they raised enough for us to purchase several acres of rain forest in Costa Rica for a conservation scheme. Some of the children produced attractive collages of their collections.

This was 15 or 16 years ago and occasionally I wonder whatever happened to those particular acres of forest. This evening I had some encouraging news. At the Wakefield Naturalists' Society Phill Abbott showed slides of a trip to Costa Rica she made last February. She told us that the people have an enlightened attitude to conservation and that they're palmencouraging eco-tourism. The country is slightly larger than Wales but there's an astonishing variety of flora and fauna thanks to it having a both Pacific and a Caribbean coast, mountains, plateaux and volcanoes.

Coincidently I had an e-mail today from Joy Rothke, an American freelance writer living in Costa Rica. Like me, Joy is also keen on drawing and journalling. From what I've seen this evening of Costa Rica's orchids, heliconias, hummingbirds, monkeys, caymans, coati mundis and cloud forest she will never be short of something to draw.

'You could fill sketchbooks galore here!' she tells me, 'Lots of British tourists, including many birders, come here.'

Sandal CastleAnd, surprisingly, she adds: 'Yorkshire is at the top of my list of places to visit (I'm a member of the Richard III Society) and want to explore.'

Richard III did a medieval makeover on our local castle, Sandal, unfortunately, 150 years later, Cromwell's men bombarded his polygonal Well Tower to it's foundations. Archaeologist's discovered the remains of a Royalist stew pot, and the remains of the stew (some animal bones) nearby. The Royalists apparently lost their meal when part of the keep came crashing down during the bombardment.

There's a handy little book on Sandal Castle . . .

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Related Links

Costa Rica tourism

Leafages by Hazel Kahan


Richard Bell,

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