Two years ago this week it snowed.
I know that because it was the day my father died. It was the final freeze in a bitterly cold winter. The Old Man had survived the Beast from the East but not the after-shock of the early spring snowfall on the night of 17th March. The doctor had to trudge across the snow-filled fields with her dog to certify his death.
Two weeks ago they held the inquest into Josh’s death. We have not, as yet, heard what the findings were but prior to it we had been sent the statements that formed the basis of the short inquest at which no witnesses were called. The first item was a simple police confirmation of identity.
The other statement was the hospital record detailing the treatment that Josh had received in hospital in those 27 days as the staff strove to save his life. It made for awful reading: an account of his gradual decline which, like a movie to which you know the ending, felt as though the outcome was somehow inevitable, in stark contrast to our feelings of desperate hope at the time.
So it was, last weekend we planted trees in Josh’s memory to start the construction of a part of the garden which will be dedicated to him. We thought of Josh as we did it, but I was also remembering my father. I have said before how my parents are often on my mind when I’m in the garden. Trees evoke memories of my The Old Man, who invested in planting a good number of trees at the Old Place. I particularly recalled the six maples that he bought – three copper, three variegated – for the end of the garden. It must have been the school holidays, because my mother and I were the ones who sunk the not- inconsiderable trees into position. When my father returned at the end of the day, his only comment was that they were not quite in the right position. My mother’s response was to offer him the spade and suggest he move them himself, if he so wished.
The trees stayed where they were and flourished, providing a handsome screen.
So this thought was playing on my mind as Mrs B and I took a spade to the sodden turf and planted three Silver Birch (Snow Queen) and a Sorbus (of an as-yet-unconfirmed type). I was naturally concerned that we planted them in the right place, which I think we did. But a couple of concerns linger.
Concern No.1: Have I left enough room for the stump grinder? If not I am going to have to lift the trees when we come to prepare the rest of the bed by grinding out the roots of the old shrubs.
Concern No.2: Have I planted the right tree? The Mountain Ash (Sorbus Aucuparia Cardinal Royal) is evocative of my childhood when a rowan tree adorned the church yard opposite my bedroom window. I have a nasty suspicion that, in a labelling mix up, the nursery delivered a Whitebeam (Sorbus Aria Lutescens) but we had planted it before we realised the possible cock-up. The nice lady at the nursery seems to think we have the right tree though it is difficult to tell when they are not in leaf. But, as she said to me, we will soon know, won’t we?
And then there is every chance that, like my father before me, I will be wanting to shift all the trees I have just planted.
I will keep my fingers crossed – and look forward to the re-birth of spring.