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Friday, 2 June 2017

Out on a limb


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The prompt photo for Sepia Saturday this week, #370, is of an oak tree that marks the centre of England. I don't have photographs of trees that have any particular claim to fame, or at least none that I can easily locate, so instead I've selected a few of my favourite tree photographs from family albums and written a few random thoughts about each of them.
This first photograph, circa 1960, is of my grandparents John and Mona Morrison's  home in Aylmer St Christchurch NZ, peacefully secluded behind this lovely tree at the edge of the garden.  My mother Jean was born in this house, as were three of her younger brothers, and in her Life book she wrote about the silver birch tree that her father John had planted when the house was first built and how when it grew strong and big enough he put a swing on it for the children to enjoy. John passed away in 1977 and the house got new owners, but when Jean went to visit in 1998 the swing was still there. I'm not sure that the photo is of that same tree, as it doesn't look like a silver birch to me, but it still looks lovely.



These days you don't see many swings on trees, probably due to safety concerns, but here I am above and below, enjoying another simple tree swing with my father and my doll respectively. I think this swing was located outside the flat that my parents rented in 1954, only a few blocks away from the Morrison family home, and at only 3 I was permitted to ride my trike there on my own, to be met by my waiting grandmother. Those were the days!



Trees are great for standing under and for framing photographs, unless of course there's a storm approaching, in which case it is not a very good idea. On the afternoon of our wedding at St Ninian's church in the Canberra suburb of Lyneham in early January 1974 a summer storm had threatened, but by the appointed time in the late afternoon it had passed and thankfully was clear, bright and warm. My new husband is clutching our ceremonial wedding certificate and we are standing beside what I believe was one of two very large elm trees in the church garden,  Sadly both trees have since been removed, apparently due to their deteriorating condition. We haven't lived nearby for almost 40 years now, but we do occasionally drive by when visiting family. The very simple little church in which we were married has since been extended and just doesn't look the same, especially without those big welcoming trees.




Below are our four children aged between 3 and 10 in 1990, posing for a family photo on a tree in the town of Ballarat. If the tree wasn't exactly over the water, it was not far off and it wouldn't have been much fun if anyone had fallen in, but it did make for a good shot. We were visiting an open air museum in Ballarat called Sovereign Hill, which recreates life in the 1850s gold fields town, and where you can get involved in activities such as riding a stage coach, going down a mine and panning for gold. I was not into family history back then and did not realise that in fact the children's ancestor, 3 times great grandfather Davis Calwell, had worked there in 1854, together with his brother Dan. I mentioned them in last week's blog in relation to the introduction of baseball to Australia. Although Davis and Dan did not get directly involved in the miners' rebellion known as the Eureka Stockade, Davis wrote a number of letters home to his mother, stepfather and sisters back in Pennsylvania, giving them a detailed account of the miners' grievances and what took place as a result. In one of his letters Davis even enclosed a few grains of gold dust. His American relatives saved his letters and they are now available to be read at the National Library of Australia. I am lucky to have been given a CD containing copies of all the family correspondence.




That's all from Turner Street, an avenue of plane trees whose leaves have almost all fallen now. They provide us with a cooling canopy of shade in the summer (click here and scroll down for a summertime Christmas collage) but also plenty of exercise sweeping up in Autumn.







To see that tree in the centre of England and read more tree tales, go to Sepia Saturday #370


  Post script:

On second thoughts, I think a blog post prompted by a famous tree really should include a couple of photos of an ancient tree in the Southern hemisphere, namely Tane Mahuta, "Lord of the Forest", a giant Kauri tree that has stood proudly in the Waipoua Forest on the North Island of New Zealand for somewhere between 1250 and 2500 years. So I searched my trip albums and found these two photos from our visits to pay our respects to Tane Mahuta in 2002 and again in 2013.

Tane Mahuta, April 2002

My mother Jean and I visiting Tane Mahuta in 2013. Not a lot had changed in the intervening 11 years, which after all was only a fraction of  time in the life of this magnificent tree.

You can find details about the tree's size etc here for example.  If you are ever in the area, don't miss it!



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