Fiction

Why the Chestnut Tree Has White Candles

'For a few weeks every spring, the chestnut blazes with white candles. Their flames are so bright you have to shade your eyes when you look at them. Then they gutter and die, and their blooms drip to the earth.'

Why Crab Apples are Sour

'Down in the ooze the pips took root. It was bitterly cold, just the other side of the wall of Eden. The saplings that struggled up were twisted and half-starved, and their fruit soured by sadness.'

Why Elms Die Young

'As any carpenter knows, elm is a tricky wood to work – robust and beautiful, but also recalcitrant and unpredictable. Even when it has been dried, it will continue to move.'

Never Cut a Hawthorn

'Then she said: "You want his heart? Then go to the fairy tree at Samhain, on the night when all the dead are awake, and cut yourself a nice big piece out of the living heart of the tree."'

The Stickiness of Lime Trees

'People were careless and clumsy, always letting things slip through their soft fingers, and the trees made it their business to make sure these things were not lost. They carefully stored empty crisp packets.'

How the Oak Came to Life

The mother, raising her head from the mattress, looked at her son. ‘O,’ she said. A long, low sound. Her mouth a perfect, round simulacrum of the letter.

Red Berries

'As long as the year was green, the couple was as happy as two birds in one nest. Yet as the summer turned to autumn, the wife found she was expecting a child.'

Why Birches Have Silver Bark

'Birch trees did not always have silver bark. There was a time when their trunks were the grey-brown of most other trees. It was sex that changed things. It always does.'