Notes from a Tree/12

A bud in September (a budding September,

two-thousand and thirteen) –

delicate, yet sturdy

soft, green and furry

tempting

inquisitive

fingertips:

“Touch me.”

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The tree

– like the whole garden –

is a riot of vigorous green

like an orchestra

boisterous

clamouring

bursting towards my camera

willing me to capture it.

I try to.

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a riot of vigorous green

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boisterous, clamouring…

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bursting towards my camera

 

I am obsessed with this tree

obsessed with the shapes of its branches

which I photograph from every angle.

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the shapes of its branches

And the spaces in between its dancer’s gesturing arms

draw me

like Alice’s looking-glass.

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The spaces in between its arms

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Still AWOL

I had been asked not to use any pins, so on January 28th I dragged myself to Parsonage Gardens to tie my Missing poster to the magnolia tree.  It had taken me all day to get there from ten minutes’ walk away (sometimes the shortest journeys take the longest time), and dusk had fallen.

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The Missing poster at dusk (1)

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The Missing poster at dusk (2)

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The Missing poster at dusk (3)

I took some pictures on my phone of the buds against the darkening sky,

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The buds against the darkening sky (1)

… and a final cartoon shot, before leaving.

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The buds against the darkening sky (2)

Two days later I returned, to see what it looked like in daylight.

in daylight

What it looks like in daylight

buds, buds, glorious buds...

Buds, buds, glorious buds…

Notes from a Tree/09

December it may be

But I still have some catching up to do.

All summer long, my beloved Jolly accompanied to the gardens, and waited – down on the ground – while I did my stint as a leopard in a tree.

I’d get up when I felt like it, have breakfast, take a shower, get dressed. We’d walk to the Parsonage the long way round, along the river.  The sun shone.  A bag swung from my hand.  Inside was some food for me, some food for Jolly, a plastic bowl to put water in for him, and my leopard onesie.  I thought, “This is the life.”

My beloved Jolly

My beloved Jolly

In Cahoots

On September 2nd I went to the Parsonage Gardens to take down the old sign, which had become a little rain-smudged…

the old sign

the old sign

..and to put up a new one

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the new sign

(With hindsight, I don’t know why I bothered.  The first one was clearly better, in a smudgy sort of way).

But on approaching the Magnolia Tree I stopped short.

The ground beneath its branches was covered in a soft pink cloud

a soft pink cloud

a soft pink cloud

Puzzled, I glanced up at the Magnolia tree as it stood there, humming a jaunty little tune and looking rather pleased with itself.

But then I cottoned on.

“Ha!” said I.  “Well done, Magnolia, you nearly had me there.  But you didn’t drop this lot.  This stuff comes from the Smoke Tree!”

The Magnolia said nothing; but ceased its humming and looked away – a little crestfallen, I thought.

I did think it was funny, though, how the wind had blown the pink cloud from the Smoke Tree, around the Acer in between and deposited it so convincingly here, beneath my beloved Magnolia.

It seems the wind and the trees are playful, in cahoots, trying to trick me.

Notes from a Tree/08

A different view

A different view

In August, I climbed higher than I had dared before

and earned myself a different view,

including one or two last

shy

magnolia

flowers

hiding

(out of my reach) – whose

siblings lay in petals

scattered on the ground.

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…petals scattered on the ground

Mid-month, the wind blew strongly

enough to make the boughs sway – and me with them.

It was a distinctly

unnerving

experience, and I clung on for

dear life (as did my new friends, the remaining magnolias).

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An unnerving experience

I  wondered what to do with the photographs I had started taking of the people who passed below.  Perhaps I would put them in a gallery called ‘Human Traffic’

– but what of the dogs and occasional wildlife I snapped?  Hmm.  

‘Non-Leopard Sightings’, or

‘Human Traffic (and Other Beasties)’

maybe.  

Divided into two categories:

‘Those Who Did’ and ‘Those Who Didn’t’ (notice me, that is).

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…notice me, that is.

Why is She Up There, Mummy? (part two)

So, the excitement and fear of the (will they/won’t they) proposal letter and its reception over and done with, I settled back into wondering what on earth I was actually doing.  “What’s it all about?” I wondered, not for the first time, in my notebook.  Why, when all the other artists had left (aka moved on), was I still here?

This is what I wrote:-

“It’s about

Belonging vs. Being Out of Place

Being Here v. Wanting to be Somewhere Else

Authenticity v. Disguise

Nature v. Civilisation

Childhood v. Adulthood

Freedom of Expression v. Repression

It’s also about lounging about and having fun!

These are all themes in my life.

It’s also about the frustration of discovering there are some things I really don’t like about myself – but try as I might, I can’t seem to change…”

And we all know what they say about leopards…

Smile for the camera, please!

Smile for the camera, please!

To conclude: there’s a certain amount of stuckness going on in my life (not to be confused with Stuckism, which is something entirely different), and so it seems apt that I should be ‘stuck’ up a tree for a year.

That’s why she’s up there, Mummy.

Notes from a Tree/04

From my notebook, dated 14th July 2013

The hot weather endures.

I endure

Saddle-sore discomfort,

grazed feet and ankles –

the results of my clumsiness when climbing.

Being overlooked (underlooked –  Look Up!  Look Up!) and then:

“Why is she up there, Mummy?”

Little girl bright in a yellow cardigan

with dark brown eyes.

“Why is she up there, Mummy?”

Mummy takes little girl by the hand, bends over her, low

Her voice is hushed –

Mummy probably doesn’t know, either.

A Weimaraner, my best visitor yet,

Jumping up to try and reach my toes and

Falling, rolling over on its back as it lands on the grass

Blue eyes turned up to me, perched on my bough

Its ears falling back

WHAT’S THAT???!!!

Unlike a squirrel, and unlike a cat.

I decide I really ought to have my camera at the ready, at all times.

Notes from a Tree/01

Well, I didn’t just lie there doing nothing the whole time.

Notebook entry: 11/07/13: “Leopard in a Tree”

“Sometimes, if I keep still, people just don’t see me.

Not even if I’ve got a leg or two hanging down.”

Photo by Jeanette Howlett

Photo by Jeanette Howlett

“It’s like being a child again

Forbidden places

Forgotten spaces.

My world is a treetop

The sky full of leaves…”

The sky full of leaves...

The sky full of leaves…

“People sit on park benches beneath me, having

Private conversations

Not knowing there is a spy in a onesie

Listening

to the sounds of their voices

Words muffled in green.”

Private conversations

Private conversations

“..Here comes a business-man to eat his lunch

The crackling of plastic bags and aluminium foil

(A leopard leans forward to get a better look)

A paperback novel

Black socks and city shoes on a hot summer’s day

A ball of food moves in his cheek

His jaw goes up and down.

My left foot falls asleep.

Two wholewheat baps, filled

Followed by two satsumas

A glance at his watch

The book doesn’t hold him

He stares into space for a while

Picks his teeth.

Oh go on, then.  Just another couple of pages.

If I were to cough, would he turn around, look up, and notice me?

Leopards surely cough, after all?

…That plane is too loud.

We have created a world full of noise.

Leopards are quite quiet

By comparison.

He goes.

He doesn’t notice me.

He stands up, adjusts his waistband, looks around him (eye-level only)

And walks back to work,

Not knowing

He just shared his lunch-hour with a leopard.”