Tuesday 5 December 2023

Six Days In The Life Of A Birch Tree: Photo-Essay

After the first light snowfall. November 29.

In the field outside our house there's a lone birch tree growing in the remnants of a tumbledown stone wall. We've watched it slowly grow for over thirty years and I've photographed it many times as it changes with the seasons. Usually the changes are slow, buds changing to leaves in the early spring, leaves slowly opening as spring progresses, leaves darkening at the height of summer, leaves slowly turning gold in the autumn, leaves falling. Then a long period of winter stasis for three months, a stasis only broken by snowfall and frost. But when the latter come the birch can change appearance extremely fast and take on a magical look it never has otherwise.

During heavier snow. November 30.

This was the case over six days as November ended and December began. The first snowfall of the winter transformed the birch tree over six days from a dark silhouette to an enchanted snow-draped whiteness. As the snow and frost accumulated the tree grew in size and changed shape as the branches drooped under the weight. 

After the snow. December 2.

The snow builds up. December 2.

On the day when this reached its magnificent maximum I walked round the birch, entanced by its ethereal beauty.

December 3.

December 3.

December 3.

December 3.

Then overnight it was all gone. A slight rise in temperature, though it stayed below freezing, a slight breeze and the tree returned to how it been just six days earlier. The ephemeral magic was over. Never again will the tree look exactly like did for these few days.

December 4

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