Sunday, 19 July 2020


Looking up into the ash tree.
Yesterday morning a man I don't know called out a greeting. "Well done!" he shouted. I stopped.
"You're doing well!" he bellowed, long-distantly.
"Thank you!" I yelled back, puzzled.
"How old are you?"
At top voice, I told him.

This is the first time anyone has asked me how old I am since . . .

. . . well when is it that people stop asking how old you are? Fourteen? Something like that; a few years after you've stopped being precise about the months and days you've accumulated. "Five and three-quarters," you say . . . and find a way to slip in (hopefully and acquisitively yet also with pride) the date of your next birthday. Then there's a long gap before you start re-volunteering age related information . . . you are soon to be one-hundred-and-ninety-three and you remember when Noah got married.

Gash in trunk of ash tree bark.
Have I really reached an age when people shout out 'well dones' in the street simply because I am walking along with moderate speed? Not really. I resisted shouting 'I'm not as old as you think! I've been ill but I'm getting better!'

Twice, while I was being treated for leukaemia, people mistook someone older than me for my offspring. I thought I'd got beyond that. Clearly not. My hair has re-grown; white and thick, with an irritatingly purposeful wave that makes me look prim. When I was young (in my early twenties) a friend commented, "We think we aren't vain. We think we don't mind what we wear. But no way would we buy crimplene!" I feel that about my hair. I've never minded excessively about my appearance but I don't like it that my post-cancer-treatment-hair currently makes me look like a lesser version of the Queen.

Yellow flowers at the foot of the ash tree.
How is any of this relevant? Well, this morning I was thinking perhaps I didn't feel like going for a walk. Then I decided that before I age irreparably, by which I mean the kind of aging where you really are running out of years, I'd better not give up on going out walking in the early morning. So off I went. And I got  as far as round the corner when I was stopped in my tracks by a bunch of yellow flowers growing at the foot of an ash tree. The sun was catching it 'just right' and I couldn't pass by. I've still not caught up with June posts - and there are Tree Following photos in my camera . . . but the moment seemed right for a 'Stuck Foot Post'. Clearly, I thought, if I am looking old enough to be congratulated for hurrying, there's no time to hang around waiting to fill in odd gaps.

A 'Stuck Foot Post' is where you stand still and see what you can see. You can twist and turn and twizzle and you can move one foot but not the other. You can lean forward if you wish but you mustn't walk forward. One foot must remain 'stuck in place'.

Hole in tall, stone wall.
Until very recently, this road had many trees in it. First a couple were taken away because they were growing out of a wall and were pulling it over. Then a cluster of cherry trees and others were chopped down because (a local account tells) burglars hid their van behind them while engaged on raiding a series of large industrial units and the owners decided to open the view. But this ash remains. I walk past it a lot but hadn't paid it a great deal of attention till it gained the status of 'one of those remaining'.

Sorrel or dock fruits.
During May and June, there was a campaign to persuade people not to mow their lawns so small plants could flower in them to look pretty and come to the aid of struggling pollinators and quite a lot of grass around the place has grown longer than usual in consequence. Then there's the coronovirus which has taken people out of the work force so councils are not necessarily prioritising having short grass. Locally, this has led to lots of flowering plants in the streets and where the council has eventually started mowing it has sensitively left swathes of it long where poppies grow and some buttercups are still flowering, and clover. So although the broader scene of grass has now been cut, immediately round this tree there are nettles and dock and clover and ragwort (is it ragwort or something else?) and . . .  

Clover in the grass.

So I stopped, and looked, and took photographs, then set about running along (scurrying) in bursts to catch up with the morning and my fitness and my age . . . before, all of a sudden I inadvertently run out of years.

If you feel like posting a 'Stuck Foot Post', let me know the link and I'll add it here.


liz said...

Lucy, “stuck foot post”. That takes me back to your Dorset posts. And, “crimplene”, another memory jolt. Here, in the U.S., we seem to be reverting to the dark ages, so it is refreshing to see trees, stone walls, green vales and hills, and the flowers, known as weeds! Keep up the good work.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I love an ash tree - there used to be a big one at the top of the garden when I was a child. Such a pity to see so many of them affected by Ash-Die-Back around here. How tactless to ask anyone their age.

Flighty said...

A most enjoyable post and good pictures. I think I would have replied 'Older than I look, younger than I feel'. xx

Sue Garrett said...

I hope you returned the question. It’s a pity that grass verges can’t house more wildflowers. One verge that `I used to pass on my way to work was one morning carpeted with bluebells and in the evening returning home the verge had been mowed and get were all gone. To make matters worse it sported a sign saying roadside nature reserve!

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Liz. And thank you again for your encouragement!
Life here in the UK is pretty strange too at present - and frightening. I am so fortunate to have much naturally growing vegetation around me, along the pavements, in the countryside, on the moors and under my own care. It makes a big difference in good times and in hard.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello John. Ash trees manage to be simultaneously sturdy and elegant. They have a great 'presence'. So far I've not seen signs of ash die-back round here. Fingers crossed this will continue to be so.
As for the man asking my age. I am certain he didn't mean to be rude or disconcerting but wanted to be encouraging and friendly. It just sort of . . . misfired.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Flighty. I think I am almost certainly younger than I feel!

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Sue. I think there are people pulling in all sorts of directions about roadside verges. I keep meaning to write to the council to say how much I appreciate seeing the longer grass and more wild flowers.