Adventures with the Trees

Over Christmas, my family spent a lot of time together. Ok, so this isn’t really an unusual thing, because I practically live in my mother’s pocket and my brother also pops by fairly frequently. We all live locally to each other. But as you know, Christmas can sometimes mean that everyone spends a better quality of time together, maybe engaging with each other in more meaningful ways than usual.

We had one of those evenings over Christmas where my family had congregated in the hallway, sitting around on the stairs. I realise that this sounds bizarre, but this is a place in my parents’ house where we always seem to hang out, or ‘lime’ as my Trinidadian mum sometimes says. Their hallway is large, and the kids’ toys are all there, so we often just gather there with our cuppas.

My dad and brother had been talking about music, as we all frequently do with it being such a huge part of our lives. My brother and I have adopted much of our parents’ musical tastes as our own, so we always like to hear about music that they used to listen to. My dad wanted to find something that he thought my brother would like, and located an album called ‘From the Witchwood’ by a band called The Strawbs.

The Strawbs are an English folk band, founded back in the 1960s. A lot of their work hailed from the 1970s, which is my favourite decade for music, but they are still playing and touring now.  My dad played us the album, and a track called ‘Witchwood’ came on.  My brother and I became captivated by that song. My brother swiped the album right there – my dad is unlikely to ever see it again.  Meanwhile I went home and purchased the track so that I could listen to it to my heart’s content.

It was such a mesmerising song, with beautiful, haunting melodies and an almost ancient, medieval sound to it.  The lyrics were also just as beautiful as the song,

“My fingers grew like branches
I stood rooted to the ground”

Despite the lyrics, the song is not about the woods or the trees. However, it prompted me to consider the woods in the winter. The ghostly nature of the bare trees in the freezing cold have always been a source of magic to me.  I didn’t relate to ‘Witchwood’ on a narcotics level (which is what the song is really about), but I did relate to it on a literal sense of the song’s words.

Over the following weeks, I was inspired to head out to woody areas with the kids, in the freezing January weather.  I captured a lot of our moments out in the trees, and I compiled them into this video clip, with the backing track of ‘Witchwood’. All bar one of the photos feature trees, whether they be the main feature of the photo or a less prominent presence in the background. All of this outdoor fun was inspired by that song, and I would love to know if you found it as captivating as I did.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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6 thoughts on “Adventures with the Trees

  1. Awoken at stupid o’clock this morning by my idiot body clock (which I must get reset when I retire **this week!**) I went down to the kitchen to sort out coffee and morning pills, wondered if I should log in and reorder my prescription, and checked my emails on the phone. Seeing that you had made a new post, I took the coffee up to check it out.

    Wow! Captivated, mesmerised, enchanted … the superlatives just keep on coming! This track, and this album, has been part of my musical fabric since about 1974 when my mate and fellow band-member Colin (more than just that, actually – we were true musical collaborators for several years, and he was the best man at your mum’s and my wedding) introduced me to “From the Witchwood”. We performed another track from it (The Hangman and The Papist) in various folk clubs for a while (I still sing it as part of my repertoire) but we never attempted Witchwood.

    In a fit of nostalgia, I did what so many old ’70’s heads’ do, and hit Amazon (other on-line one-stop-shop sites are available – apparently) looking for a vinyl replacement. This was about a year ago. I listened to the CD in the car on the way home from work, with that wonderful reawakening feeling you get when you check out a musical blast from the past. Regrettably, I got home, put it with the other CDs in an overflowing stack on the CD rack and forgot about it for several months. (Sadly, we have had few opportunities just to sit down and listen to music in the recent past, but I hope to change that very soon.) As you said, it wasn’t until Christmas day when we were doing that very thing and Leon was regaling us with some of his faves from his phone collection through the hi-fi, when I thought “I know what they’d probably appreciate.” And the rest, as you know, is history – you were all enchanted.

    I’m so flattered that you and Leon love the same stuff that mum and I do, and always have been. I love what you’ve done with Witchwood in your pastiche and video – I’m only sorry that my dear departed mate Colin can’t see it – he would have been as enchanted as I am. Thank you so much for immortalising this song. Love, dad xxx

    P.S. Yes, I did do my prescription reorder!

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    1. Dad, first and foremost, I’m pleased to hear you sorted your prescription!

      Your and mum’s musical tastes have been imprinted on Leon and forever. We’re both ’70s heads’ at heart and are incredibly grateful that you played us ‘Witchwood’. It is very sad that Colin isn’t here to see this.

      I suspect that we’ll have a lot of time in the near future to sit and listen to some music – Finley will be delighted! xxx

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  2. It is a captivating song and one to chill out with, the black and white images really match the folk music and add atmosphere. Lovely winter woodland fun. It sounds very celtic too.Thanks for sharing your interpretation of the music with me on Country Kids.

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    1. Fi, we were all mesmerised by this track as it blared out of my parents’ stereo on Christmas day. You’re right, it does sound Celtic too. I love it paired with the woody photos, and of course, couldn’t resist linking it with #countrykids! Thanks for having me! x

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  3. This is the most beautiful, captivating post-your photography and video pieces are breathtaking lady and the song was perfect for the moving images. You and I are so alike, Mum and I are thick as thieves and my brother is often at our house too, we are lucky to be and feel so close to our families. Loved this post x

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    1. Goodness Vicki – what a compliment on my photography, particularly as you have access to the amazing photography skills of your husband! We were so inspired by that song, and I felt compelled to get out amongst the trees with the kids to get those snaps.

      I can totally imagine you being as close to your mum as I am. Life would suck not being nearby, wouldn’t it? It is so important to appreciate your family. Thanks so much for your complimentary comment – I’m so touched and so glad you loved the post x

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