Tree 367 :: dissecting trees ::

15th June 2011
Oslo Botanical Garden, Norway.

This is the end. Although this particular end is a beginning so you’re not too late…

This will be a sort of double bill end… this is part one. Part two covers the end in more detail. 

It is time. Hard to believe it was May when the project came crashing to an end – like Shrodingers tree. Seems I’ve needed to ‘recover’ before writing something. Well… recover and earn money to pay off debts.

One way or other I’m here to update this story that already feels like a distant memory. It’s hard to believe I actually did that, – Every day like someone bizarrely obsessed. Like someone with tourettes of the arms and legs gesticulating me up trees. A kind of weird hunter, always with an eye on the trees scouting for something unusual, or possible. All with a ‘vain’ hope of a purpose of course. I’ll now always be that person for good or ill who stubbornly climbed more than 365 trees, at least one every day for a year. It really is strange to think I did that. Like I’ve come out of a psychosis. A good one I think. I’m glad I did it.

This is the first tree I’ve climbed, you could say, for over a year without ‘having to’. Or as part of a ‘job’. This climb will now become a part of the book so it’s been transformed into ‘work’. However, drinking wine, sat in a tree on a sunny day, thats what it’s about… I’d sort of lost a bit of perspective on it all. Began to fret over not fitting it all in, all the ideas I had, all the particular trees I wanted to climb or the people I wanted to meet for the project.

At the same time I began to wonder why I was doing it at all. Been important to leave it aside for a bit. Let the field fallow. Left too long and the field would become unrecognisable and a bugger to work. Could become a meadow or a forest if left long enough, which may not be a bad thing depending on how hungry you are. I for one am quite hungry and keen for a year of my life to be more than just distant memories. If I lost you, – the field is where all this work took place and I need to shape what grows there before it turns to brambles in my head. I don’t want it to become just a story told in a pub on the 17th May each year. The guy who climbed trees. Then finally nothing. Not even the trees. All dead.

Well… it will come to that but maybe I can squeeze a book out before then. So how do you turn a pebble into a ripple on the water? The an exertion, and a bit of hope and belief. As the wine glass window shows, my memory of the whole experience is remembered. Distorted, beautiful and not quite as it actually was. A period of gathering the material, pruning it and resowing. Or, collecting the appropriate stones, throwing them in the right direction, (i.e. not inside a greenhouse), and then hoping the water doesn’t turn to ice before the stone lands.

People and trees I didn’t get to climb in or with but hope to draw into the next project were for example a 9000 year old tree on a mountain and a dude who used to own 10,000 apple trees and then sold them to a corporation who cut them all down to plant more efficient trees, both in Sweden. A 4000 year old Ewe tree in Wales,  Mark Boyle – the ‘Moneyless Man’, my mum and dad and brother, dozens of people who I climbed with and who I wanted to do a follow up climb with. Caroline Lucas, although she’d probably not been seen dead in a tree with me considering she may want to distance herself from that kind of image, (hippies climbing trees). I didn’t get to climb with Jonas  Selberg Augusten, – the director of ‘The tree lover’, and conclude the final chapter to the bird story at the tree house hotel. Or spend time at the Tree house community who have battled the authorities for the right to stay where they are and carve out another way of living closer to nature. I didn’t get to climb with Steve Gough, the ‘Naked Rambler’ and friend in a Scottish prison, and talk about freedom and what it is to be yourSELF, or meet Shaun Chamberlain, -co author of the white paper outlining TEQ’s, – energy rationing as dreamed up by David Fleming. I didn’t get to… etc. There’s a list as long as 3 of my arms, a leg and a piece of string of ‘great’ ideas but the same is true of this project as of Forest Gump’s box of chocolates. Not only do you not know what you’re going to get but the little lumps will run out sooner or later.

It has to be said that despite not doing this and that up trees, I did eat a crap load of good chocolate, metaphorically speaking of course.

80 people interviewed. Many more climbed with. 365 plus trees. All weather. Learning. Teaching. Inspiration – at least I’ve been inspired!

‘Rehabrd’, ‘444trees’, ‘Who wants to chip in and plant a forest?’, (to come) ‘World General Strike’ -(also coming soon), all off shoot projects and were seeded by UpTrees. Very exciting.

I was winched into a tree by the fire-brigade for local TV, met professors, tree consultants, a belly dancer, a band on a mission to cycle their tour around europe carrying all their equipment on their bikes, got work though it, had an exhibition, gathered my whole family for a Family Tree party, was evicted from the party by the Caterers, collaborated with an Indian Block print carpenter, climbed the Christmas tree given to London by Oslo before it was cut down, met great people who are and have changed the world. I’ve found out a few things about myself… found out climbing a tree nude is both liberating and scratch inducing, begun to learn how to talk to the press and how bloody hard it is. Spent all my money. Travelled. Rediscovered the joy of trains. Climbed with thousands of ants. Seen birds, scared birds (by default), spoken to 500 people at a Pecha Kucha about it all and led a ceremony with them about being family and Mycorrhiza Fungi. And written a rough book, (scribbled in 15 note pads and waiting to be transformed).

So… dissecting trees. That’s a strange job. Should have met someone who does that for a living. See part two…

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