Questions around a tree

What sort of a tree is it? How old is it? Why was it planted? How long do such trees normally live? What went wrong with it? Will it survive?

Did people love it? Did people care? Why did they save it?

How much life does it support? Does it support more in its decaying state? What will happen to its branches? And its woodchips? Will it recover? What gains from its pruning? What gets extra sunlight? What benefits from its space, and the water it uses? What lives in amongst its roots? What do its roots hold together? What do its roots force apart?

Does it have an aesthetic relationship with the trees around it? The plants around it? The tower on the hill? The ruins below? Did it obscure the view from the bench? Did it enliven the view from the bench? Did it bear fruit? Or blossom? Are its leaves beautiful in autumn? Does it make people smile in the springtime?

Is it newer than the other trees? Have there been different waves of planting? Do some trees survive from the civil war? Was it all replanted by the Victorians – or earlier? Could it survive without water being pumped up? And the work of the gardeners? Would it be overpowered by local foliage? Does it rely on regular care? Was it damaged by people? Was it damaged by lightning? Was it struck by disease? Did it become a home to parasites? Did a fungus take hold? Did an infestation bring down one branch, and people carry on the damage? Or vice versa?

Did it smell beautiful? Did any creature think so? How does it taste? Would anything eat it?

How does the wind sound as it moves through its branches? How does the rain sound as it hits the leaves? Do the groups of leaves rustle together even on a still summer’s day?

Is it useful or ornamental or cheap? Did it come with a package of other plantings? Did they ask for twenty different trees and this one was just thrown in – or did someone specifically request this tree? Did they draw up a p;an, and name this tree and its space befre buying it, or did a gardener wander through with a spade and a sapling one day and hit upon this as a likely place?

Has anyone ever written a poem beneath this tree? Have people fought below this tree, or scuffled, or argued. Have deer nibbled its bark? Has the sun burnt it, the frosts chipped away at it, the water seeped in and split it? Would an earth tremor shake it, have youths shied stones at it? What does it symbolise? What do people believe about it? Is it a tree you can believe in?

Is this its native habitat? Would people / animals / insects / lichens / moulds / bacteria treat it different in its native environment? Are there many in this country? Or in Bristol? Has anyone ever viewed it and then gone on to plant one of their own?

Why would I memorialise it? Or commemorate it? Or save it? Why did the tree surgeons save it today, and the gardener clear it away? Would I have saved it? Who makes that decision? Who owns it? Who bought it? Who pays for its maintenance? Who makes the crucial decisions about it? Who viewed it and decided to save it? What would make it a special tree? What legends are there about this type of tree? What stories do people tell about it? Do they give it a personality? What personality does it have? Is it tough? Is it pliant? Is it bountiful? What is it?

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One Response to Questions around a tree

  1. Ruth Deakin Crick says:

    These are a fascinating group of questions. I am intrigued by the number, the range and the depths of the questions you generate. How many lifetimes would it take to answer them all well? And I notice that you are working naturally in an inter-disciplinary way. I guess that’s what life is like – we experience Brandon Hill as a whole – embodied experience of being on the Hill means that you have started with your experiential knowledge – and I think you are also presenting that knowledge in images too. But what most interests me is the way your questions are authentic, and lived. It’s not like you are writing and essay question for your teacher -you’re not using other people’s knowledge yet. You are narrating your own learning journey…and I find it very engaging as a facilitator. You really have my interest in your learning.

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