Monday, 8 January 2018

TREE FOLLOWING - ALDER

Alder tree flanked by silver birches in Halifax town centre, West Yorkshire, with Lloyd /Halifax Bank building in background
This is a wonky picture. I know. It was a dull afternoon (Christmas Eve) and I was hurrying. And I'm not yet used to taking pictures where hills are going off in all directions and there's no horizon. (I keep having to say these things. I'm keeping you with me as I adjust.)

But I like it.

When I first came to look at Halifax I hated this big glass and stone building. It's over heavy and ostentatious and quite frightening to drive under. It feels as if it will fall and topple and crush. But along with other things I'm sort of growing an affection for it. It's quite impressive when people are hurrying up and down its steps on their way to and from work. Like a ziggurat.

But it's a sad sight too. I know I'm swinging around. But that's how it is. For 'The Halifax' used to be a famous building society - individuals could receive interest on the money they saved in it and buy their homes with money they borrowed from it. The idea was thought up in the upper room of a local pub (1853) and the whole enterprise was owned by its members. But now it's just an ordinary bank, bundled in with The Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank and various other financial institutions - a casualty of late twentieth century greed in which capitalism went on a rampage and the idea of mutuality was mowed down by a load of individuals who knew how to 'work' the system - eventually leading to all sorts of financial crashes all over the place. But now, of course, the main function of this particular building is to be a backdrop to the alder tree I'm following - between two silver birches.

Contrast between alder and silver birch branches
Turning the other way, back to bark, we see 'what's behind me' . . . and are able to contrast the stumpy sturdy branches of the alder (on the right in this picture) with the more delicate, droopy ones of the birch. (A more mature silver birch has a totally different atmosphere at the top . . . perhaps one day I'll be able to look level with the top of all three trees . . . I wonder if people in the building would let me look out of their window . . . )

Silhouette of fairy lights in alder branches
Sticking with the branches . . . one of the things which attracted me to this broadly uninteresting tree was that it has fairy lights in its branches. Do you know the Greek Village series of books by Sara Alexi? (I can't recommend it too highly.) In it, Stella, one of the main characters, hangs fairy lights in the tree outside her cafe which sells chicken and chips with lemon sauce. The lights, even though they are naff, are a sign of joy and freedom and laughter and liberation. Her cafe is one of the centres of community. Perhaps the lights in 'my' alder are turned on for night-clubbers. Don't know. But they weren't on for Christmas, which was a bit of a let-down. (Especially as the decorative baby's dummy and old drinks can have been removed from its protective railing.)

Bark of alder tree



Being a bit more tree-focused . . . here is its bark.

Alder tree buds


And close to pavement level - buds ready in waiting for spring. I don't know how frequently managed this tree is but guess this bundle of twigs will be cut away at some point so don't get too fond of them.







These pictures were taken, as I mentioned above, on Christmas Eve, so they are two weeks out of date. How much change will there be by next month's Tree Following post? We'll see.

* * *

I'm Following a Tree


Tree Following - chose a tree and observe its progress through the year. If you'd like to share your posts with a larger group of Tree Followers you can leave a link on The Squirrelbasket blog between 7th and 14th of each month.

* * *

The Loose and Leafy links for help with identifying things is now up and running on this blog. It's still there on the old Loose and Leafy in Dorset but from now on I'll be updating it only on this (the Halifax) site.

The last five additions are:
UK Moths
U.S. WILDFLOWER JOURNAL - A plant a day.
WILDFLOWERS OF THE UNITED STATES - Massive index with photos.
PLANT AND FUNGI SPECIES - an alphabetical list on the Plantlife Site
FIRST NATURE - Trees, fish, flowers, fungi etc.

Do browse.


45 comments:

Phil Slade said...

Over here today and after a frosty start it feels like spring. There's a Dunnock singing in the garden for all it's worth and the Blue tits are mooching around the nest box. How do they know that so soon after Christmas. I agree with you about titmice - an Americanism but a good word for the family of longs, great and blue. And much more PC.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tit_(bird)

David Gascoigne said...

I was about to leave a comment based on your inquiry regarding tits and titmice on Phil's blog, but I see that he has responded above. All of these birds are members of a family known as Tits and Chickadees (Paridae), and in North America we do have birds named Titmouse - Tufted Titmouse, Black-crested Titmouse, Bridled Titmouse, Juniper Titmouse and Oak Titmouse. The most common member of the family in southern Ontario where I live is the Black-capped Chickadee, a delightful little bird which patronizes my feeders every day. I think the name Titmouse was originally based on the observation that these little grey birds can resemble a mouse scurrying among the branches. With my best wishes, David.

Countryside Tales said...

Cracking post, as always. Thought provoking, thank you. I would ask the folks in the building to use their window to look at your tree- I’ll bet it would bring some interesting conversations into the light and maybe encourage more tree followers. Dunnocks singing here too, and blue tits in and out of the bird houses. We put up a bat box yesterday in the twisted willow beside the house. I am very excited. We already have a bachelor roost in our roof, hoping for new pips in the box in spring.

Countryside Tales said...

Hi David- I wonder if they are like our treecreepers who are sometimes called treemice for the same reason?

Countryside Tales said...

Just checked, they look like a cross between our great tits and coal tits. Read your comment properly and realised that was what you were saying anyway 😆

karen gimson said...

I love alder trees. The wood when it’s chopped is bright red in the middle. We’ve got a few alders around our horseshoe pond. They have beautiful catkins in spring. Thanks for sharing your tree. I’m wondering if you are brave enough to ask those people if you can look from the building. Go on, I dare you :) xx

David Gascoigne said...

Hello again: To answer your question above, Treecreepers are a different family. We have one representative here in North America, Brown Creeper.
Thanks very much for following my blog.

eljaygee said...

Good choice Lucy - urban trees have a lot to contend with and its heartening to see them growing in our midst. Have not decided on tree following this year but one I had my eye on is a very tall grey alder opposite Russell Square tube. On the other hand its good to choose one further afield as motive to walk further. We'll see
p.s. I like your take on the corporate capitalist takeover of the Halifax - from such well-meaning beginnings....
p.p.s. been browsing the UKmoths link - fascinating. Thanks for these

Rambling Woods said...

Hello Lucy...Happy New Year! I really need to do tree following. We planted 4 dogwood and a witch hazel and will be planting more this season. More of a shrub, but dogwood is beautiful...I will try to remember..Michelle

Penelope Puddlisms said...

Fairy lights ... that's a lovely idea that got my attention. It's also nice to get a little news from Halifax. Thanks for sharing your world. :)

Fun60 said...

Ah The Halifax building society. Both my mortgages were with them so I feel an affinity to the place. Haven't visited the town but maybe one day. Look forward to you solving the mystery of the fairy lights as I'm sure you will at some future date.

Natalie Bass said...

Hi Lucy, thank you for leaving a comment and prompting me to find your new blog as I had missed seeing it. How exciting to be exploring a new area. We have just spent a lovely few days over New Year in nearby Luddenden. I shall follow your explorations with interest! Natalie

jeannettestgermain said...

This was such an interesting post! Didn't know that feature about Halifax.
How come I didn't know you before? (rhetorical question:)) Am Dutch of origin, and even though I've lived several decades in California, I still feel Dutch (it's hard to wipe out my beginnings).
Have a curious question why you moved from Wordpress to Blogspot? I did just the opposite, but I wonder if there are some (negative) sides about Wordpress I haven't discovered yet!
Thanks for visiting me on this very rainy day (an anomaly in California):)

Joyful said...

Lovely post. I live in the city too and when I go out I like to enjoy the trees, the leaves, the flowers and so on. I hope you will adjust to your new place of living soon. Happy New Year!

Birgitta said...

Lovely post!

Jo said...

We were with The Halifax in the past, being a Yorkshire building society there were plenty of conveniently placed branches around here. What a shame the fairy lights weren't on over Christmas, I wonder what they do light them for then, or perhaps they don't.

liz said...

I hadn’t realized before that tree-following could be so entertaining! The history of the Halifax Building Society was worth a blog of its own. The alder branches show up well against walls. I wonder where the pink mitten went. The fairy lights “lit” would have been pretty. Thanks for the post.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Lovely post on your tree following. I like the idea of hanging the fairy lights on the trees, they are a joy to see. Nice views of the birches.
Happy Tuesday, enjoy your day.

lotusleaf said...

Hi Lucy! Thanks for your comment on my blog. I don't know for sure why there are pockets in the leaves of Ficus benghalensis var. krishnae. Most probably for collecting rainwater or dew, as these trees grow in quite arid regions.
I enjoyed reading your post on the tree following. Banks have indeed become impersonal offices- such a contrast to the bank my grandmother used to go to!

Bob Bushell said...

Nice post of Alder Trees, lovely looking.

carol l mckenna said...

Very creative post and photos ~ all wonderful and I like your 'wonky' photo ~ it is intriguing to me and seems have a very European essence to it ~

Happy Week to you,
A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)

colleen said...

Wonderful choice, Lucy. And I'm sure you are up for asking to take some photos from inside the building. Tell them it's by public demand.

Looking forward to learning more.

Gattina said...

Nice walk through the town. I hate when old buildings are replaced by glass boxes !!

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Phil. I was just starting to type that we have hardly any birds here when I heard an owl. It's the first time I've heard an owl here . . . either magic or wishful thinking. Wish we had dunnocks. It will be interesting to hear what happens in spring.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello David. 'Chickadee' is another wonderful word!

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Countryside Tales. A flock of black headed gulls came and did a swoop around level with my upstairs window a few weeks ago and I got very excited.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Karen. Yes. I am wondering whether I will be brave enough too. Though given that I can hardly ask every month and wondering which would be the best time of year to be brave in.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Eljaygee. Choosing a tree at a distance runs the risk of giving up too soon.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Michelle at Rambling Woods. Yes. Do join in with tree following. New year, new tree? I'm not always sure what counts as a shrub, a tree, a bush - even a hedge at times. Elders and hawthorn can be awkward that way too.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Penelope. Do you have links with Halifax? That would be interesting. Fairy lights . . . there used to be Fairy Lights all along the promenade in Weymouth (I used to live on the Dorset Coast.) They were taken down in favour of Laser Beams - which really don't have the same romance at all.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Fun60. It's interesting how things which ought to be neutral - like the names of banks - can bring about affections and antipathies depending on our associations.
Re. fairy lights - perhaps these have been in the tree for donkeys years and haven't been turned on in almost as long. But then, one day, I may walk part and there they are, all lit up and pretty.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Natalie. Luddenden isn't far at all - and lovely walks in the woods at Jerusalem Farm. Let me know when next you are in this direction and we can meet!

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Jeanette. re. Wordpress . . my last blog was also a Blogspot blog. I like Blogger. I've not tried Wordpress. The reason I started this new blog was not because of platforms but because West Yorkshire and Dorset (where I lived before) are so very different from each other I though it better to keep them distinct.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Joyful. I'm always on the look-out for green, even in the middle of towns. And thanks for your good wishes. I already feel at home here but can't stop commenting on contrasts. They are so striking.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Birgitta. Glad you enjoyed the post.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Jo - someone else I might get to meet sometime as you are not dreadfully far away! I'm feeling these posts are almost as much a fairy-light watch as a tree one.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Liz. Tree following is fun because you have to concentrate in order to see something new each time.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Eileen. Maybe everyone will be hanging lights in their trees now. (Can be over-done though.)

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Lotusleaf. Banks have become drearily impersonal . . . and not only that, branches are closing so for those without internet access they are becoming extra remote.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Bob. Only the middle tree is an alder. The ones either side of it are silver birches. Glad you like the photos.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Hello Carol. I'm glad you like the wonky photo as I'm not sure I'll be able to take a better one from that angle. There's a building behind me and branches above so I wouldn't get a clear view. I suppose taking a step ladder might make it better but that would be 'extreme' tree following and I'm not sure I'm up for that! (Yet!)

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Colleen, hello. Perhaps I shall try that. 'Public demand'! (Or at least 'people would like to see'.)

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Gattina, hello. There are many buildings in need either of demolition or replacement. I hope architects will chose styles which will enhance the area without depriving it of its character. It could be good if they go for something dramatic. Many new buildings in London blend in, even enhance, the city for all that they are not in keeping with its familiar styles.

catmint said...

When you called the Alder 'broadly uninteresting' I thought how anything in nature is interesting if you focus on it and get to know it well. I love the way you intersperse descriptions of the tree with musings about topics as diverse as capitalism today, and recommended books. Hadn't heard of the Greek Village series - will add it to my ever growing bucket list of books to read.

Erika Groth said...

Looking forward to following your alder. Bare alder branches in winter look kind of spooky if you ask me.

Hope you enjoy your new home town.