The planet is our home; we need to be more responsible. Here's what I do.
The seventh of May follows closely on the heels of 5th May. In The Netherlands that’s Bevrijdingsdag or Liberation day. This day marks freedom in this country after WWII. The day before is Remembrance Day.
There is a very big link to trees for me. Recently we visited a saw mill near our house. It uses the power of the wind to power a set of huge saw blades.
The blades are positioned vertically like a giant egg slice and the trunk of the tree is fed through the blades in a tremendous system made of wood. It’s something spectacular to see.
So how does that relate to the beginning of May?
While we watched the preparation of a huge trunk, the volunteers in the mill worked painstakingly with a metal detector.
A trunk this size has to be more than seventy years old. In that time the tree tells a long hidden story. Hidden beneath the bark are the wounds that tree silently bears.
In The Netherlands trees of this girth are normally sourced in the east of the country.
In the 1940s, that area and close woodland was the location of intense combat between the opposing sides. The trees around the soldiers absorbed many bullets and shrapnel as they were caught in the cross fire.
I often find myself wondering what these ancient trees have witnessed but these great timbers have souvenirs of war.
The metal detection process is vital. A missed piece of metal could claim a modern victim if it shatters the blade in the mill. And alongside that practical problem for me it serves as a significant reminder of the things men do and the suffering and loss sustained. The trees serve as a poignant long reminder of those lost souls.
And what of our tree? What does she remember? What has she witnessed?
Her leaves are coming through now.
Tiny buds finally started to open about two weeks ago. Many of the other trees in the area are far ahead of the ones along the road. I wonder if that’s because the street is quite shaded.
The street view is developing. One highlight of the year is watching these trees become greener, filling the avenue with colour.
a blog by a multilingual expat-since-birth, linguist, researcher, mum of three, living in the Netherlands and writing about bilingualism, multiculturalism, parenting abroad, international life...