David Bittacy and his wife have been happily married for decades. Mr Bittacy has another love though. He loves nature. More specifically he loves trees. So when he discovers an artist who paints portraits of trees in a way that captures their individuality... their personality even, he decides to invite the artist to stay at his home. The two men are kindred spirits, both believing that trees have souls... that God is in the trees. Over a long night gazing at the trees that encroach his garden, with the deep wood close by, the two men venture to put into words a philosophical understanding of nature that frightens and disturbs Mrs Bittacy. Their words cause her to catch a glimpse of wild, potent, sentient impressions of the life that is a forest. It jars her deep religious convictions to the core.
Algernon Blackwood is brilliantly adept at this sort of psychological dance, playing the known world and its belief systems off against the limits of human knowledge and understanding. Blackwood's beautifully rich descriptions of nature, and his deft maintenance of disquiet are excellent. There are few writers, short of Mary Shelley in full Godwinian flow, who could keep that disquiet going while exploring a philosophical idea for over 70 pages and still retain the interest of the reader.These trees are on the hill where my house is built.
Year of the Toad - *Common toad near Blackford Pond, Edinburgh * Last weekend we visited Blackford Pond hoping to see lots of toads spawning but we were too early for the ...
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