The change is obvious as soon as I step from the tunnel of trees that enclose the footpath to the weir. The oak tree that hung from the bank at the end of the weir has been chopped down. The space is strewn with leaves and twigs, a few branches lie in the water, but the bulk of it is stacked in neat rounds back from the water.
There are a lot of trees in the world but for me at least some of them have a special place. This was one such. True it had been much undermined by recent floods and I suspect it was necessary to cut it down before it fell down and did damage to the recently restored weir, but it is a loss.
In summer the leaves patterned the concrete with their shadows. On early mornings in autumn beads of dew would glitter and sparkle on spiders’ webs festooned amongst the twigs. Later in the year there would be the plop, plop of acorns hitting the pool as I sat changing and the roots made very handy seats. And earlier this year the largest raven imaginable sat casually out of reach in the branches and watched with nonchalance as I wriggled into my wetsuit.
There are indeed more trees and trees come and trees go with or without the help of a chainsaw. Nevertheless, after those that cloaked the opposite bank were clear felled 2 years ago it seems that this once wild oasis enclosed by roads and cars and people is suddenly in a glaring spotlight.