Trees are good aren’t they. There’s something inspiring about planting a tree; there’s something majestic about a giant tree that’s been rooted to the same spot for years. Even after life a tree has a presence: a hollowed out trunk can be hidden in, a stump will be climbed on.
When storm Eunice hit earlier this year, many trees were blown over, trunks snapped and splintered. There was one in the park near us that was completely uprooted and lay on the ground for months afterwards with its branches reaching across the grass, as if stretching for the one thing that could rescue it. This tree’s life was sadly over, but far from being of no use, it became a destination point for families to take our kids to play in. It was often requested on a Saturday – come on we’re going out; can we go to the fallen down tree? Of course we can. You never get to explore the tangled branches of such a large tree so safely, so near to the ground. A perfect natural climbing frame.
As a runner, and particularly in the current heatwave, trees offer vital shade across our paths. They also pump out oxygen, a substance I can never seem to get enough of when I’m out on the run. I consider myself lucky enough to have routes through these tree-lined paths, trees that have stood there since Victorian times, guiding me through the countryside.
However, trees also have a habit of blocking my gps. This doesn’t feel like the highest priority whinge in a world full of challenges, but I find it… inconvenient… that when I’m trying to run at a consistent pace, the trees block the one thing that helps me track it. My watch often tells me I’m running a minute or so slower than my actual pace, and all because it can’t work out where I am so thinks I must’ve stopped half a mile back.
I’m not saying we should chop down trees – I’m not that much of a spoiled brat. But a gap here and there would be useful. Maybe a genetic modification to trees that made their leaves transparent would help. Maybe I should consider holding my watch on a stick so I could poke it out of the shade and into a more favourable gps zone?
Or maybe I should embrace the beauty of nature and just be happy that when I emerge from cover and reconnect with a satellite, my watch works out where I am and records a personal best for my fastest ever mile at Mo Farah pace.