Altered Perspectives

As I get older I find there are things which I would have hardly noticed when I was younger, but which now I look for and are fascinated by. Clouds, for example. They have always been there, but now I have more time to sit and stare at the sky– and reason sometimes to wish that heavy black clouds might unloose their moisture to irrigate the dry earth of my allotment! I have become conscious of the varying moods of the sky, the different levels, speed and colour of cloud formation I find there is a Cloud Appreciation Society, with a membership of 22,760, a ‘cloud of the month’ picture and a manifesto which includes these words ‘Clouds are so commonplace that their beauty is often overlooked. They are for dreamers and their contemplation benefits the soul’. I agree.

I notice trees much more than I used to, am impressed by their size, the formation and variety of bark, their relationship to each other, the shape and colour of their leaves. I’m not into tree-hugging yet, but on a walk I am given to standing and staring and somehow relating to trees, existing long before I was born and which will massively outlive me.

We have many of them in and around the city I live in and in the surrounding countryside. They are a sign of strength and beauty. But in recent years the horse chestnut, has become prone to incurable disease. ‘Bleeding cankers’ cause a rash of small rust-coloured pockmarks, sometimes weeping and staining with a toxic red, giving parts of the tree the appearance of corroded iron. We were looking at one the other day. I felt I was saying goodbye to a friend. Similarly when we were walking in Scotland last month some forests were decimated by fallen trees, sculptured death, but noble against the green.

And children are more important and precious to me than ever before. Sometimes the very young and the seriously old have a particular empathy.

There may be a sort of basic being that unites us, a directness of response, an original or recovered innocence and a sense of wonder. My own grandchildren are of course very special, and the very youngest a delight, but I think I notice all children more than I used to.