November decline – slow dawns and the threat and reality of die-back

November 9, 2012

As the sun rises during early November the light struggles through the murk. Birdsong has almost disappeared, with the exception of the metallic ticking from a resilient Robin and a short insistent burst from a Wren hidden deep within a knot of bramble. Otherwise the silence lies heavy and the impression of a decline into Winter is hard to avoid.

I check the Ash trees along the railway line as I pass them. They have dropped most of their leaves making it harder to spot those with die-back. What I can find does not encourage me. If those grand mature specimens in the valley have succumbed to Chalara fraxinea, it seems unlikely that these closely packed, self-sown youngsters are going to thrive for much longer. It strikes me that most people do not notice the trees for what they are; distinctive boundary markers, etchers of sky line and creators of cool shade. But when they go, or threaten to do so so, the very loss of volume within a country village is immense. The accompanying photograph shows what is essentially the carcass of a village tree – the whisper of leaves has gone and soon too will the shadows.

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