Monday, 10 October 2011

We spent Saturday mapping local habitats with the South Yare Wildlife Group around our parish of Ashby St Mary. Understanding the diversity of habitats allows us to get a sense of how well (or not) local wildlife is provided with food, shelter and sustenance. As part of the exercise we were looking at significant trees, and it was pointed out that the name of the village is derived from the Ash trees that grew around the village. Not many remain but at almost the highest point of the parish stands this large and ancient ash. It seems to have been pollarded in the past, but has grown unchecked on the edge of an arable field for years, adjacent to a footpath I walk regularly. I had never considered the origin of the village name, nor its relation to topography. To do so is to be drawn into consideration of longer timescales than our habitual immediacy and short-termism.

In the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien conjured the Ents, walking trees that considered the other creatures of Middle Earth to be always in a dreadful rush. One of them explains that 'real names tell you the story of things they belong to in my language'. As I consider this venerable tree, I realise that this is true in our world as well. Taking a moment longer than usual to look, to see, to think, the world reveals so much more my normal rush hither and thither allows.

So what about Ashcott?

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