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This report is taken from PN Review 184, Volume 35 Number 2, November - December 2008.

Tree at my Window Neil Powell

There's a tree in the middle distance from my study window which looks, especially when it's silhouetted against the morning light, exactly like a stalk of broccoli: a long, slightly lumpy trunk, then leaves on smaller branches bunched like florets. It's a reminder that things are very often like other things; natural shapes tend to share simple principles of good design. The ungainly word I'm after is perhaps connectedness.

My mother, who died in July, was fond of trees - and of plants, animals and insects - though often baffled or irritated by other people. She thoroughly approved of Roy Fuller's answer to a questionnaire which asked which creatures, if any, he preferred to human beings; to which Roy replied, 'All.' A codicil to her will, dated 5 November 1997, states: 'I wish my body to be buried in the Woodland of Remembrance at Oakfield Wood, Wrabness, Essex.' The previous month, she had paid for her interment in a coffin 'made of cardboard, soft wood or other similarly biodegradable materials'; a wooden plaque would then be placed on the interment site 'within fourteen days' and a tree planted 'in the dormant season'. The idea of a 'green burial' was relatively uncommon at the time, and it must have struck her more conventional friends as eccentric although perfectly in character: the response of the administrator at Wrabness when I quoted the receipt number to him - 'Gosh, that's an early one!' - would have delighted her. My ...


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