It was a fantastic afternoon at Moor Pool Hall as we welcomed Mandy Ross, Birmingham based children’s poet who has written over 60 children’s books to launch her latest children’s poetry book, Tree Whispers, published by Child’s Play. Not a first for Mandy, but certainly a welcome first for us.
Outdoors amongst the trees at the Carless Eco Centre was the perfect place for a poetry reading. As adults and children gathered round, the weather could have been kinder, but as Mandy pointed out, trees have to put up with whatever the weather brings so we should too. None us even noticed the rain as Mandy talked about trees and what they might say to us if they could talk. How we shouldn’t get bamboozled if we don’t know trees names, trees don’t know their names either. How we should sit under trees and appreciate the peace and tranquility, talking about Shinrin Yoku, the art of Japanese forest bathing.
‘Our leaves rustle our roots whisper, if you were a tree what would you whisper to me?’ From the Willow to the Eucalyptus, to the Sycamore and Oak. Mandy brings trees to life with each poem she has written. We start to understand a little bit more about the importance of trees to all of us, how we can learn lots from trees. Mandy talked about trees from all over the world and how whatever corner of the planet we are from we should all learn to love and respect trees no matter what. They capture carbon, breathe out oxygen and are the earth’s lungs and need nurturing and preserving not chopping down and how we can all learn valuable lessons from trees.
And that’s exactly what we did as we went on a tree trail along the enclosed paths and the roads from Carless Avenue to the Main Hall. Trees are such an important part of the Moor Pool Estate, wherever you walk you are never far from a tree canopy, whether it’s Silver Birch, Willow, Yew or Oak, trees are celebrated at Moor Pool, come every season. As one resident says, ‘the trees around here are beautiful, isn’t it one reason we all love it so much!’
Looking up at the buds and branches and down at the bark, the moss, the lichens and the roots and seeing the blossom petals floating like snow in the wind, we all felt their huge presence at Moor Pool.
When we got to the Main Hall we settled down around tables filled with coloured pencils and paper, all made from trees, keeping the connection going throughout the workshop where we made our own tree book.
Children and adults listened to Mandy’s easy to follow origami instructions of how to fold our very own book, whether it was A4 size or a tiny book with tiny pages and tiny words, but the same strong message – that trees really matter.
It suddenly went quiet as everyone’s heads were down and concentrating on their own books entitled, ‘my tree book,’ ‘The untold (tree) story.’’ What would a tree say to me?’ Drawing elongated branches, long silvery trunks, lime green leaves, conkers and seeds.
One of Mandy’s poems was a particular favourite amongst the children,
We breathe in…
We breathe out…
Every tree, wood, forest, jungle,
We’re the giant green lungs of the earth,
Your vast planetary breathing system.
We turn air into heartwood,
Transform light to leaf, rain to roots to leaf, to cloud.
We capture carbon,
breathe out oxygen.
Don’t stop us!
Don’t chop us!
Stand with us!
Breathe with us!
And inspired by the Tree Whisper’s book and Mandy’s workshop one of our tree fans wrote a poem too,
‘It’s not about glory, attention or image,
It’s just, our story is never heard, seen or recognized,
The powerhouse or life forced or food system, without us…
There is no tree.
Signed – The Roots!
As we finished writing our own poems’ we looked at a tiny sycamore tree, with i’s delicate roots, tiniest trunk and fragile leaves. It was clear that as we finished our own book’s we had all been inspired by Mandy’s beautiful poetry book, we had learned more about trees, and had been inspired by nature to produce some lovely artwork and poetry of our own.
And one last message from Mandy, we’re taught to not like weeds but…..
Don’t call us weeds!
We’re the niftiest of seeds!
In a wasteland place by the railway tracks
or tiny gaps and pavement cracks,
we tuck and squeeze
to grow our roots
and small green shoots
fresh and free
aiming to be
great, big strong trees
to grow more seeds!
It was a perfect poem to finish on as Moor Pool had also invited guests from a local charity called, The Patchwork Meadow, please email them at this address to request your wildflower seeds. email@example.com that provides free wildflower seeds to plant pocket meadows all over Birmingham whether it be on grass verges, window boxes, your lawn, or even an egg box flower meadow. So not only did we leave inspired by trees, but also with the seeds to plant grow and nurture our very own wildlife meadow to support our own little bit of biodiversity in our back garden’s. And after such a lovely afternoon, I believe we all left the book launch feeling we had grown a little – just like the seeds and just like the trees!
Huge thanks to Mandy Ross, The Bear Bookshop where the Tree Whisper’s book can be purchased – please email – firstname.lastname@example.org and to Alison from the Patchwork Meadow charity