Sadly, a casualty of Storm Katie was the horse chestnut tree which stood at the foot of Dux Hill. It was such a handsome tree, its sticky buds just breaking into bright green soft leaf, full of the promise of the white flower heads, called ‘candles,’ to come.
Split asunder by the raging weather, it shows us that it was hollow inside, proving how well a mature tree can survive even when its heart wood has rotted. Standing sheltered among other trees, it must have taken a freak gust in all the tumult to cut it off at the knees.
The tree was a friend to me: marker along the way of countless walks; giver of conkers to ward off the house spiders as the nights drew in and grew chill; parent of the tree I have grown in my own garden; and the place where one day I found a great queen hornet sunning itself on a serrated, tear-shaped leaf. It withstood the privations of the leaf miner attack which turned its leaves prematurely brown each autumn and the unwarranted compaction caused by builders’ vehicles parked over its roots with callous disregard for months. Its candles lit up the view from Dux Hill across the valley in Spring.
I shall miss it sorely.