February is a tricky month for tree climbers. The cold, driech, drabness of the weather makes heading out to the woods a little bit more of a duty than a delight. The climb is harder than it was in January (although I am noticeably more supple than I was after the Christmas sloth period) – the bark slick green and slippery my hands can’t feel to grip. There is still no growth on the tree, no sign of hope for spring. But my heart springs to life when my foot slips slightly, and I remind myself that I need to concentrate, to be aware that I am high off the ground in a tree hundreds of years old. What a joy that realisation is!
I settle in a fork of the tree to drink the tea I have brought (a progression of sorts from my recent foray up a small hill for a cup of tea). The oak’s dampness seeps slowly through my jeans as I listen to robins and the distant throbbing noise of a motorway, not muffled in the absence of forest foliage.
I am very much enjoying my year of tree climbing, and already looking forward to returning to my tree in March to see what has changed – both in the wood and in myself.