Fiction

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.'

The Quaking of the Aspen

'Desperate to get away from his now too voluble spouse, he hurried out to the moor with the aspen leaves crushed in his fist. To his surprise, the same green-gowned lady came riding by.'

Why the Ash Has Black Buds

'The trees have always had some idea of what happens to them when they die. In forests they saw their neighbours toppled by wind or age and rot into earth, and their roots sent up descriptions of peat and coal in vast beds and seams.'