When I was a kid and I was worried about something I’d done, I used try to think, ‘Will this still matter in a year? [Will I still be in trouble in a year?]’ Useful perspective sometimes.
These two websites have a rake of photos of abandoned and derelict houses, factories, hospitals and a host of other eerie stuff. Haunting, indeed!
‘Requiem for Detroit?’ is a whole film on that theme, moving and unforgettable. It ends on a hopeful note, which makes it more moving still.
I was watching an interview with an astronomer and something he said stuck in my head. ‘One depressing possibility, that explains why we haven’t found any clear signals from extra terrestrials, is that… something that comes along with higher intelligence is this self-destructive ability. [… c]ivilisations being born and ending, like stars, throughout the universe.’ (He was cautiously optimistic about humanity’s prospects though.)
What he said reminded me of ‘The Wild Blue Yonder’ – another film – a fake science documentary from the future. Beeeoootiful music too – cello harmonics from Ernst Reijseger, and singing from Mola Sylla and a choral quintet. (I think I mentioned it before.)
Headed up to the Seven Sisters white cliffs a few days ago. Those rolling hills with their chalky margins are pretty iconic of this part of the world. Nice to get the cobwebs blown away a bit too, although we didn’t make it to Beachy Head. Next time!
And while we’re at it, here’s some loveliness from the soundtrack of ‘The Harder They Come’, the title track of which was the work of one Jimmy Cliff. Zing!
A tree grows in the edge of a small wood of ash, beech and yew trees. Although it’s old, its branches are still straight and elegant. Birds live in its branches, they sing from its boughs, their nests are built from its twigs and leaves. Stylish magpies, tiny but vicious wrens, bright-voiced sparrows, have all used it for food or shelter, without ever speaking to it. Bustling and busy, their small eyes never really notice the tree’s leaves changing colour, never hear its creaking branches and whispering leaves or see its arms waving to the wind.
A girl lives in a house on the edge of the wood and, unlike the birds, she watches the changing trees as if their lives were a long story that she will only know part of. The dark and spiny yew trees with their poisonous berries and bark catch her hair as she passes under them and the air always seems colder around them. The oak trees have rumpled bark like an old man’s forehead but still, every year, they drop smooth, green acorns, as shiny as young apples.
The girl often sits in the broad, smooth branches of the beech tree on the edge of the wood. As she climbs, the larks and sparrows fly away, frightened by the strange bird with only feathers on its head. She pats the tree’s brown hide as she sits cradled in its arms, strokes the gnarls and knots, peers at the scars left by buds that have dropped off and at the veins in its juicy leaves.
One day she climbs the tree with a book in her hand.
The story describes a person’s journey to the wildest, remotest places in the world, looking for a home after a flood submerges their city under the sea. Each day, the girl reads another chapter, then carefully places the book in a hollow between the tree’s branches. As the days pass, the book uncovers a previously unknown world to the tree. The northern lights over the arctic wasteland, the wind that screams over the desert, a flood that erases a city’s existence, and solitude. The tree has always been surrounded by other trees, and always rooted to the one spot.
(Gradually, the tree’s appearance changes; it takes traces of the other landscapes the book has described, until it’s become a sea and sunset tree in the green forest.)
One day, near the end of the book, there’s a storm. It starts to rain and the wind whips the book’s pages back and forth. Some pages grow soggy and the paper gets weak. As the rain grows heavier, the tree bows its branches to protect the book as best it can. The pages float up to touch the leaves; they’re softer but stronger than paper and they spark a faint memory in the book of a faraway forest, and a tree like this.
The next day, the girl finishes the book. She climbs back down, taking the book with her and leaving a transformed tree behind.
Because the tree was so tall, when it fell in love, its heart had a great height to fall, and when its heart broke, it broke in a thousand pieces.
A woman stops by the wood on a snowy evening. She writes the book’s name under the tree in the snow.
The tree’s heart starts beating very faintly.