Last September I came across a lonely spruce tree on moorland between Sheffield and the Derbyshire village of Baslow. See here. It had been dramatically bent over by prevailing winds and I vowed to return to it from time to time to take fresh pictures.
At present, I am staying quite close to home whenever Shirley is at work. This is simply because our heavily pregnant daughter is due to give birth any day now. Yesterday, I phoned her before venturing out into the winter's day for little more than an hour. No immediate signs of impending birth so I had Frances's permission.
Here in the city, it was a beautiful blue sky January day but by the time I got to the spruce tree, clouds were swirling and a snow storm appeared to be approaching from the west. It was bitterly cold up there and I thought that I had missed an opportunity to capture the crippled tree in glorious technicolour. Fortunately, there was a five minute spell when sunshine burst through a gap in the clouds.
I have fallen head over heels in love with that tree. I ran my fingers along its bark and felt its spiny leaves. It appears to be bent at almost ninety degrees but of course things are not always as they seem. It is clear that in some hurricane or wintry blast - perhaps years ago - this tree lost its top section. A cruel beheading courtesy of Mother Nature.
Back home, I immediately phoned Frances again. Still no birth pangs. That babe is staying put for a while and I don't blame him or her one bit. It's a wild world out here as Cat Stevens warbled plaintively long ago. Snug inside a warm, watery sac dreaming dreams of the unborn may seem a better alternative.