Tag Archives: trees

Building A Tree – Building Imagination

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you might be aware that I started building a tree earlier this year in the library where I work. Well, with a lot of effort and help from an amazing artist, Nicci, and my daughter, Savi, we finished her.  She now resides in her little alcove where we used to have an ICT suite, recumbent against a mural backdrop of a forest filled with dappled light and birch trees.  Her branches reach up to the ceiling and give the impression that she has broken through to find the blue sky above.

Some of the teachers and parents smile and nod when I try to explain why I would build a tree in a library and my answer is, why not?  We need to motivate our children to read and enjoy books.  What better way than bringing in a source of old stories, fairytales, adventures and the paper the books are printed on…a tree!  Putting it in such a simple way demeans the principle of Grandmother Tree’s existence.  She has created a space where children can laugh and play under the safety of her branches.  They cuddle Sir Sid Quirell, the resident squirrel and postman who helps deliver the letters written to children who have re-discovered the art of writing letters to their beloved tree. Grandmother Tree might understand technology, but relies on corresponding through the written word and pictures sent her way by the postbox next to her tree trunk.

The children are waiting to hear her story.  They want to know her age and what she has seen in her lifetime, the books she has read and whether or not she has met Dr Who!  Their excitement and fervour to write about themselves and their likes and dislikes encourage this old tree to share her tales.  When the time comes to comfort a child or calm the storm clouds threatening tantrums, what better way than sitting on the bench near her and discussing their troubles?

As a librarian, I try to encourage children to respect books, read them and return them to the library.  With Jabba the Postbox ready to accept returns and Grandmother Tree aware of the children’s efforts to read more, I have more books returning each week than I have had in the past two years running the library.  It’s a positive effect that is pleasing to teachers and children alike.  It reduces disappointment when they are refused a new book until they return their old one.

Yes, I realise that the novelty of having a tree in the library with slowly taper off.  But, as we reach a new season, she will change her leaves, adopt the persona of a snow queen or a cherry blossom as the seasons demand.  The carpet will soon turn green and lush with artificial grass so that the children can honestly be swept away from the world when they enter their own magical forest in their school library.  Now, who said a librarian’s job is boring!

Building A tree

I’m building a tree.

It’s one of a kind

The bark is gnarled and rough

You know, the knobbly kind!

I’m building a tree

The instructions float in my mind

No previous experience necessary

Just the willingness to bind

Hopes and aspirations

The ability to laugh

Yes, and of course

The knowledge of bark!

I’m building a tree

For what, you might ask?

Well to give autonomy

In my ability to complete a task.

Do You Name Your Christmas Tree?

It has become a tradition in our house to name the Christmas Tree we choose to represent our celebration of advent every year. In the past we have used the plastic alternative (much to my displeasure!), until my Hubble could be convinced that trees weren’t like the ones we had as children – the prickly needles wouldn’t fall all over the floor and rug coating our living is shards of nasty dead tree! Once he allowed the first sweet Nordic pine with soft needles and anti-moulting tendencies into our domain, he was hooked!

Choosing the tree is as big a fight as naming it! We are not the fussy type that drive miles to the killing grounds to select their tree straight from the forest to cull it there and then. Just like chickens, we’re happy to buy them from the local supermarket; as long as they’re fresh and look good. Our Homebase, a hardware and gardening store, stocks a lovely selection of pines which is not too big so that we are trapped there spoilt for choice. Sometimes too much choice is not a good thing in a family of six. For example, look what happened when Hubble thought it would be a “fun idea” to let the children come with us to choose one kitten as a companion for our older cat, Tarzan. We ended up coming home with all four kittens thanks to choice and the matching number of kittens to children! No, choice is fine when it is limited.

Right, so we go for a special Nordic blend that doesn’t drop its needles, has a soft, beautiful texture to its leaves to avoid prickliness and looks like it’s straight out of a picture book. We leave the absolute mayhem we have created behind and spend another fifteen minutes in the car park arguing over which we we put the tree into Yoda, our Chrysler, last year. (for those of you that haven’t read about Yoda, I give my car names too!). By this time the store assistants should have had enough time to re-wrap all the trees I requested to see and made them open, only to refuse them for the first tree we noticed. Sorry again!

We’re on our way! A quick stop for a bucket of KFC, because obviously choosing a tree is hard work and keeping the natives in our tribe, yes our children, quiet requires us to feed them frequently. Once home the tree is placed on its special stand and we all step back to admire the oversized mammoth of green in the living room that dwarfs everything else in comparison. I am not a patient person so whilst they gather in the dining room after cleaning themselves up, I start trimming away at the branches until the giant breathes in and becomes a more acceptable size. By this time, names are flying across the two rooms and arguments ensue. Last year was the easiest year to name our tree. We called it Roy after my brother-in-law who passed away. It seemed appropriate since his birthday fell on Christmas Day and we missed him so.

Once the name is chosen, hot chocolate is made and we toast the tree. Trimmings are squirrelled out from the loft and decorating begins. And that, for us, is the beginning of advent.

If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, you know what I will be doing. Will send photos and let you know the name once the dust settles and Michael Bublé is crooning in my ears about Christmas for about the third time…we love his Christmas CD!

Have a lovely Thanksgiving weekend everyone, whatever you’re doing!

Picture courtesy of the treetopper.com