SOMERSET LEVELS 137 – THE END OF THREE OLD FRIENDS (MONO)

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Three Willows, at the end of things, on Tadham Moor; 31 March 2014.

I went down to the Somerset Levels yesterday.  The long spell of mostly dry weather that we have had after all of the rain and floods earlier in the year encouraged me to think that things would be better  – for better, read drier – down there, and I was proved right.  Where I was headed – Tadham and Tealham Moors – had of course experienced far less catastrophic flooding than areas not too far further south, although they were still underwater – but this “homeland” of mine seemed remarkably unaffected now that the waters have receded, save for quite a few fallen trees.

The thing is, the soil here is largely unconsolidated black peat, which is often moist or wet.  But lately, weeks of being submerged had turned it into something approaching blancmange or wet rice pudding, such that any trees leaning away from the vertical would have had a harder and harder time gripping into the soil, trying to keep themselves upright.

I don’t like seeing downed trees at the best of times, but the trio shown here affect me rather more than most.  For they are just across the road from somewhere that I call the Magic Carpark.  Why magic?  Well, this peaceful, serene and no-frills place helped me through some truly dark days sometime back, and it is certainly magic in my eyes.

And I’ve known these three trees since I first discovered this area of the Levels, 20 years ago.  And I have a photo of them in the prime of life from a little earlier – 1986 –  (in “Wetland – Life in the Somerset Levels” – ISBN 07181 2897 4).

Well, here is yesterday’s sorry scene.  The tree on the left, formerly the largest of the three, has been a stump for sometime – there is another photo of it here .  And there is a fisheye shot showing it here .

But as you can see, the next tree away from the camera has fallen a casualty to the recent flooding – already leaning towards the rhyne (the small waterway seen here; rhymes with scene), its roots have lost their grip on the mush around them, and the tree, roots and all, has toppled sideways, taking the edge of the adjacent tarmac road with it.

And the future does not look good for the third tree in the line, which is leaning precariously out over the rhyne, and which has gaping holes in its now hollow trunk.  It will sprout leaves this year, but its collapse cannot be far off.

So, the end of three old friends.  But I was a geologist a life or two back, and that mindset is still very much with me, always will be with me.  I know that nothing endures, nothing stays the same, with the passage of time – not the greatest of mountains, nor the sprightliest of trees.  But still, as these three decay, or when their carcasses are hauled away by the local farmer, I shall remember them.  And miss them.

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor ar 70mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Strong Infrared Low Contrast preset.

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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer working in monochrome, colour and combinations of the two - with a great liking for all sorts of images, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous in my photography, trying new ideas and working in many genres. And I'm fond of Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

18 Responses to SOMERSET LEVELS 137 – THE END OF THREE OLD FRIENDS (MONO)

  1. krikitarts says:

    It is always sad when old friends fall, but it takes a particular sensitivity to recognize trees as particular friends. I can clearly recall the passing of several who were very special to me through the years, and your sentiments resonate with me.

    Like

  2. Meanderer says:

    How sad about those trees. There have been so many lost to the incessant rain and strong winds of Winter just gone. Everywhere I go along favourite walks and gardens, trees are down. The smoke which forms the backdrop of my current image was from the burning of downed trees.

    As you say, things are everchanging in Nature.

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Yes, certainly sad, my friend, but I retain a geologist’s viewpoint >>> in fact I’ve noticed a little resurgence of my geological enthusiasm – fondling favourite fossils, getting a bit enthusiastic at the thought of brachiopods, crinoids and pegmatites. And this retired persons’ university, well as might be expected, it has a few very capable do-ers, and masses of others – but some sort of geology class might emerge there – course title? >>> “Lewis Rocks” – well I mean, what else??? 🙂 🙂 🙂

      I hope you’re doing fine, M, that leisure is treating you well! A

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  3. Malin H says:

    😦

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  4. You are looking – and seeing – the world. And you have it documented, to look back on again and again.

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  5. RobynG says:

    Very nice Adrian!

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  6. Carrie says:

    Beautiful post about a sad reality. You captured your sentiments exactly. Love to hear the geologist perspective, I too studied geology and am married to a geologist, I see things in a similar light.

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Thank you, Carrie, I’m glad you like this post! And being a geologist really does provide another perspective, doesn’t it, I’m so glad you agree – maybe it centres on the realisation that a human lifespan is less than the blink of an eyelid in the great run of things – and indeed the whole period of existence of the genus Homo is scarcely more in the Earth’s 4,500 million years of being.

      I think that one thing that impresses upon me the brief time for which we live, is that we are able to produce maps of coastlines – the British Isles for example – and that in the main, with a few bits nibbled off there, and a small tectonic or volcanic uplift there, these maps continue to depict reality throughout our lifetimes – that shows how brief we are. I mean, for example, about 6,000 years ago I think, the sea level off the area that the Somerset Levels occupy now rose 100 feet. I don’t know whether this rise was rapid or not – but to contemplate anything like a non-gradual 100 foot rise today would entail looking catastrophe in the face – worldwide!

      I must not ramble on – but it is good to talk to another geologist! Thanks for your thoughts! Adrian

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      • Carrie says:

        I love that you “rambled”, thank you! Yes, I totally agree. One of my favorite feelings is to feel small in the grand scheme of nature. I love to stand on a shoreline with nothing in any direction but the vast Ocean and shoreline as far as I can see, or on a mountain top seeing nothing but more mountains, glaciers, river below, and just tiny me. I gained a great perspective of what I was actually seeing when driving at looking at mountains, landscapes, rivers…things I saw everyday but after learning of how they formed I could see in color! I am endlessly amazed at our natural surroundings. Thanks for taking the time to share your perspective with me. I really appreciate it.

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        • Adrian Lewis says:

          My pleasure! And you make a good point there – once we have geological knowledge, we never look at landscape the same way again – quite aside from its aesthetic qualities, we see it with new eyes, we are able to read so much more into it, and to understand it so much more. Its been a real pleasure talking to you, Carrie. Adrian

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  7. Sadness captured…Your words are lovely…

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    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Henrietta, thank you very much. Images are the main thrust of this blog, but I do enjoy writing about them too – I suppose my words become a part of each image. I’m glad my feelings have got through – thank you again! Adrian

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