For more than seventy years, I have kept secret my faith in that beautiful tree, and in all that time it has never failed me.
In times of great stress, and sometimes great danger, I simply climb up into its branches, letting my mind absorb its magic, and I know I am safe in its embrace.
As a small boy looking up into its thickly woven branches, I realised that in some way my life, and the tree would be bonded together. It was our destiny.
Standing up from the hedgerow, the round smooth trunk held up the saucer shaped base, with its closely knit , almost impenetrable branches. This in turn held the full shape of the cup, creating a perfect cup and saucer image in a living breathing natural tree.
How I longed to climb into its centre. I knew that when that was achieved, I would be in my own private castle, my tower, my refuge, my place of sanctuary, where nothing could cause me harm. A green haven of peace.
It would be my secret, kept hidden in my mind. My World shared only with nature, and perhaps a nesting Finch or Thrush. We would be safe, encompassed in green caressing leaves, secure like a child in a mothers embrace.
Despite all set backs, a period in Hospital, an arm broken on two occasions, I never lost that burning desire. One day soon I would fulfil my dream.
Even before that great day the tree dominated my thoughts. At four years old, I sat in bed in that old Tubercular Hospital at Gobowen, out on the verandah of the open ended wards, snowflakes blowing in on the foot of the bed, I was oblivious to icy winter winds, fits of coughing, horrible medicenes, huge spoonfuls of Cod Liver Oil. I just thought and dreamed of my beautiful tree, knowing that I would recover, be reunited with that secret world.
Eventually the time came, I knew that moment of glory was to hand, the tree would be climbed that weekend, or at least by the following bank holiday Monday.
I remember the intense excitement, the anticipation of what was to come. Chores were carried out quickly, and cheerfully .My Mother became suspicious, I heard her remark ”That little devil is up to something”
Oh yes I was, and a lot higher up than she thought.
My first attempt despite the planning was a complete failure. It became apparent that during my wait to get strong enough, I had also grown considerably .Alternate routes to the summit would have to be explored.
Eventually the first part was achieved, I was in the saucer, even that brought great delight, and spurred n
Me on to greater efforts.
Squirming and wriggling my way up into the cup, I lay there my mind and body overcome with emotion.
Every thing I had dreamed of was at lat true. The sense of achievement, and above all a feeling of complete safety, I was alone, as one with this living breathing tree, almost a part of nature itself, nothing could possibly harm me.
After all this time, scraped knees, scratched hands, and a torn Jersey seem such a small price to have paid for such high rewards.