Friday, 10 October 2008

Autumn in Taunton

It's midday and I'm hanging around in Taunton town centre where I'm temporarily stranded after the vehicle I came here to collect turned out to be at a different dealership in Bridgewater, ten miles away.

After two hours and a degree of confusion and bureaucracy that went beyond irritating to become almost awe-inspiring, I've been told that I'm forbidden to simply get on a train to Bridgewater and get the car from there as one of the parties involved is trying to make a point to another about wrong addresses, resulting in the collection being cancelled.

My controller is trying to find me a replacement job, hopefully in the same county, and I'm currently passing the time by lingering next to a particularly large and unusual tree, trying to commit the details of it to memory.

It's now about six months since I began trying to learn more about trees, in the hope of increasing the depth of description I can put into my writing. I can now identify, with some accuracy, about twenty different species.

Amongst other things, this extra knowledge has led me to notice the changing seasons more. Today, for the first time this year the car that I had kept overnight had a scattering of fallen leaves on the roof this morning, a small detail that I would not have thought twice about before.

I also find myself looking at the names of roads on new estates, such as Hawthorn Rise or Yew Tree Close, and then looking for the appropriate specimens, often before concluding, rather smugly -

'Hang on a minute, any fool can see there are no yew tress around here.'

However, such tendencies are tempered by the fact that I'm still unable to name most of the trees that I see, including the one in front of me now, which still confounds me despite the fact that it is one of the first kinds that I tried to identify, chosen on the grounds that I could see one from my front window. It has smooth brown bark which peels away in strips to reveal light grey wood beneath. The leaves are long and green, and roughly the shape of a spear head, and do not fall off in winter. If you have any idea what it is please tell me.

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