Today we started to plant a wood

Today we started to plant a wood

It’s not every day you set out to plant a wood.
In that dead time between Christmas and New Year
we set off down the field with tubes and stakes
and a bag containing twenty-five young oaks.

The ground was still frozen in places;
some mist hung around in the valley
and we saw the river below was running high,
melt-water sweeping past left-over ice on the banks.

We discovered it’s not so difficult to plant a tree:
with your spade you cut the turf and dig a hole,
put the little tree in, replace the soil nicely round the roots,
and tread the soil down carefully.

It’s good to add joy and laughter and love,
but the tree will probably grow anyway, given sun and rain;
It’s good to reflect on beginnings, and courage, and faith,
but the translucent protective tube may be more important.

If you repeat all this twenty-five times in a morning,
the ghost of a wood emerges on the land:
it was probably over a thousand years ago
that there was last a wood here.

We trundled our spades and lump hammer back home,
and ate heartily of baked beans for dinner.
Tomorrow, there are many more trees to get in the ground,
but today, today, we started to plant a wood.

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