A Year in the Life of an English Oak
This is Harold, an 800 year old oak tree in ancient woodland in Essex a short drive from where friends of mine live. The inner trunk has died and some of it had to be felled a few years ago; outer limbs are still alive but it will take a few years before the Forest Rangers can be sure that the main tree will survive into a tenth century.
I never took much notice of trees until the hurricane of 1987 when the sycamore in the garden where I lived then stood firm while hundreds of others toppled. After that I took a bit more notice.
I got the idea a few years ago to take photos of some particular tree in all seasons to chart the changes through the year. Early in 2007 I borrowed my husband’s camera and set off for a walk to see what came out. Over a period of several days the tree which took my fancy was a modest oak about 5 minutes walk from my home.
The original idea was to take a picture from the same spot on the same day every month but that was too rigid. So I needed a tree within a few minutes walk that I would pass regularly, and could reach quickly, should there be an interesting sky.
At first the family scoffed at my choice. It is not at all magnificent, not particularly tall, no Admiral is going to mark it out for his next warship. There is graffiti on the trunk and in the past some vandal lit a fire underneath and the bark still bears the marks of damage. Unlike Harold I doubt it is much above 60 years old. It stands in managed parkland, on the bank of a stream, just before an area of older woodland and a new plantation.
And something about this modest, vandalised, not particularly grand, English oak appealed to me.