Friday, May 23

Leaning Pine

On Tuesday I was in Canterbury on a lonely road near Hanmer Springs driving, travelling on my own. I'd seen a lot of landscape over the previous few days but these sturdy pine trees, all with a precise lean to the left, totally captured me. The prevailing winds in this area are admired for their force, there is even a settlement called Windwhistle. This wind, over the life of individuals such as those in this forest, have, bonsai like, shaped them. I've never seen anything like it, their powerful trunks, all at I would say, 15 degrees from the vertical.

This particular forest is very tidy and precise. The trunks have been groomed, the timber has less knots that way. But equally importantly, in this forest there are black cattle grazing on the undergrowth and making it lawnish. One is there as a small black dot right in the middle of the picture. I thank them because they helped this photo concentrate on the tree torsos and helped in giving this landscape, for me, a rush.

When I was little I used to go to the movies every Saturday, in a tiny Northland town called Ohaeawai, this was post-war rural New Zealand. The programme always included a black and white newsreel. For only a few minutes, one Saturday night, I might have been about 10, there was a clip about a garden in Japan where a gardener was, at the top of a tall elegant ladder, using equally elegant scissors, tenderly clipping the dead needles and twigs from a very large pine tree. Over decades it was being made into a work of art. The gardening ethic could not have been more different to that in which I was being raised. Those few electric minutes educated me in a way that has enriched my life.