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A Birch Tree Sings


A Birch Tree Sings - Richard Jefferies Reimagined (#4)

There was a time, in my early 20s when, like Richard Jefferies, I lived and worked in a town (near London). I had an upstairs flat in an old Victorian house. Outside, on the other side of the road, was a Birch tree ...

[...] I used to look now and then, from a window, in the evening at a birch-tree at some distance; its graceful boughs drooped across the glow of the sunset. The thought was not suspended; it lived in me always. [...]

The Story of my Heart Richard Jefferies

a leaf falls

In the morning, cooking eggs and bacon, tea poured - dappled light flickering through the leaves; never still ...

 morning cuppa   johnny noddy on my wall 

... my thoughts would often drift: the sweet fragrance of the fir deep in the woods - the soft caressing sound of the wind high in the trees - a sunlit birch tree, leaves dripping from a passing shower ...

 summer rain   a willow wren sings 


Floral Dance (Reprise) from Dapple by Dan Haywood


The featured image is of Friend's Clump on the Ashdown Forest, from an original oil on canvas by Alison Berry (reproduced with permission). Alison painted it during the Summer a few years ago when she spent many days just painting the Forest.

Here is a link to her Web Site. She paints stunning pictures so do take a look ...

Alison Berry

Alison is an artist running Art Classes in Hartfield and Coleman’s Hatch, East Sussex and creative workshops, called “Paint Like…..” events for small and sometimes very large groups.

Alison‘s art encourages “stepping outside”; she observes and takes part in the random everyday chaos along with everyone else, and makes work which involves viewing this experience from a distance, drawing out timeless themes and contradictions [...]

The recording in this post is used here under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. This and many more can be found at - Xeno-Canto

Thanks to Colin Blundell, President of the British Haiku Society, whose suggestions helped my ‘birch trees’ haiku see the light of day. And whose recent piece on the BHS Facebook page on ‘Haiku as Anchors’, in part provided the inspiration for this post.


Ashdown Forest - Home of Heffalumps, Christoper Robin and Winnie the Pooh ...

Ashdown Forest is of significant ecological importance but is perhaps most famous as the setting for the Winnie-the-Pooh stories written by A.A.Milne who took his son, Christopher Robin, walking there. The artist E.H.Shepard drew on the landscapes of the Forest as inspiration for many of the illustrations he provided for the Pooh books.

In English folklore a Johnny Noddy is the dancing light reflected from a mirror or reflective object such as a watch face. A Johnny Noddy could also be the light you see reflected in a cup of tea.

Dan Haywood’s song is the closest I could get to a musical interpretation of a Willow Wren’s (Warbler) song. Short but sweet.

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Deborah Vass
June 12, 2020 10:23 am

A beautiful post. I love the writing of Richard Jefferies, but haven’t read this, and must do so.

Colin Blundell
Colin Blundell
Reply to  Clive Bennett
July 14, 2020 10:43 am

I’m reminded once again how we were both entranced by The Story of My Heart in teenage years – in my own case at Easter 1953 in Paris on a school trip!

Deborah Vass
Reply to  Deborah Vass
June 17, 2020 10:09 am

Dear Clive, 
Thank you very much for your message. I shall investigate the comments and wondered why I never received anything! 
I hope you receive this as it was the only way I could find to respond.
It is interesting how these strange works have made me much more aware of plants that are familiar , yet now it is as though I am seeing them afresh. I have found that I have appreciated nature much more acutely and was greatly heartened to see how it has thrived these last months. It feels even more precious. 
I planted a native honeysuckle in my garden today, near the dog rose and think the pairing very lovely. I shall give the rose a good prune in the autumn!
Thank you very much for taking the trouble to let me know, it is much appreciated.
With best wishes, Deborah. 

June 12, 2020 5:58 pm

I adore the painting and the haiku!

June 14, 2020 9:52 am

The silver birch is one of my most favourite trees and we planted one here last year which I watch daily. I know the Ashdown Forest too, and the villages you mention: I have often driven through the forest and it’s always a delight. (I have walked there too, I should add!) Alison’s painting is beautiful and evocative. Your haiku is as ever, equally so. And now I know what Johnny Noddies are! Beautiful post, Clive, brought back memories for me too.

Andrea Stephenson
June 14, 2020 10:18 pm

Beautiful poetry and mental images you give me Clive and the painting is lovely too.

Andrea Stephenson
Reply to  Clive Bennett
June 15, 2020 1:13 pm

It’s beautiful, ethereal, the contrast of flower fairies in the night is lovely!

June 15, 2020 1:26 pm

Wonderful poem and post. I like the way you interweave the haiku with the past, present and the details about Ashdown Forest.

Padmini Krishnan
July 5, 2020 5:00 pm

Captivating painting and lovely haiku. Wish we could see a birch tree outside the window. All I can see are tall buildings:)