Broken but looking up
Scarce and still unseen.
Here’s our time
Memories of scuffed knees
and swinging from trees.
These days are theirs
I lead by example
Through the undergrowth and scrub.
Releasing my inner child.
Until then, reconnected.
CLARE JENNINGS | Buckthorn | Cheshire
From the moment I cradled the smooth curve of the spoon in my palm, I was there once again. The faintly acrid smell still in my nostrils. The burn of the bonfire smoke in my eyes. The curls of wood shavings falling around his feet.
Grandma would always bring me a blanket as I sat in the old camping chair. Wide-eyed and listening, whittling away the minutes before bedtime, as grandad whittled away at his next creation.
‘You know overseas, the likes of Canada and America and that? They don’t much like the buckthorn a great deal. Say it suffocates the other trees and plants over there.’ He pulls back a strip of bark, revealing a flash of orange underneath.
‘Who would have thought it, ay? Something like our front hedge causing all that bother? Mind you, if your nan hadn’t asked me to chop it back a bit, we wouldn’t have this lovely stuff to have a go at, would we? It won’t go that far, but we’ll get a few spoons out of it yet’. He smiles, taking the time to carefully point out how the handle will start to take shape.
‘Aye. And you thank your lucky stars you don’t live in the olden days. Back then, if you had a dicky tummy, they’d grab some buckthorn berries, boil them up in a pot and sweeten it with a bit of honey for you to drink. But you mark my words, it didn’t feel so sweet once it started working’. Six-year-old me squeals with delight, relishing every second of grandad’s re-enactment of the fierce effects of the medicinal berries with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Behaviour that would surely be rewarded with a shake of the head from grandma.
‘But it’s not all bad mind. You remember those leafy butterflies I showed you, the green Brimstone ones? We get loads of them fluttering around this garden in the summer? Well, next year we’ll go hunting caterpillars. Tons of them there are in that hedge. All nibbling away at the leaves.’
His enjoyment of his garden was contagious.
‘I guess it depends how you look at things. Some might see an unlovable spiky bush. But to me it’s home and food for wildlife, a beautiful bowl or spoon, a warm fire, and time with you.’
In his own way, Grandad made the world a better place.