Julian and I have been in our current house longer than any other since we were married. One of its main advantages is that it is within walking distance of a beautiful valley that is criss-crossed with footpaths. Regularly walking these paths has been a great way of reconnecting with the natural world, something we really missed when we lived in London.
Every season has its landmarks in this valley, whether it is the wild garlic that sprouts all along the riverbanks in spring, or the way the horse chestnuts gradually shift from green to orange, the first heralds of autumn.
Not all the landmarks are entirely natural, though. If you take the path up the valley at this time of year, you come to a cherry tree that has mysteriously grown decorations. I have asked several people but still have not managed to find out who hangs these baubles. Some of them are quite high up: it is obviously a task requiring considerable effort.
Every year I enjoy the surprise I get as I round the curve in the valley and see the tree sparkling with baubles for the first time. I like to speculate that they are a way of remembering someone special, perhaps a friend or a family member who loved these paths as we do and whose memory lives on in the joyful spontaneity of a decorated tree that grows in the wild.