There’s a finger of land that stretches out from Trapeharde and continues on through the woods, emerging in a valley on the other side of the trees. It’s an old farm track, cut in the hillside many years ago, giving level access to the fields beyond.
Just at the entrance to the woods, within sight of the house, there is a collection of metal that had accumulated over the years: an old plough, several buckets, pieces of farm machinery — old stuff that had stopped working, had broken or had been abandoned at the end of a hard, working day.
Just on the other side of the track there was a thicket of small trees that our neighbour recently tidied up. At the end of his labour, he had revealed a remarkable object: a metal wheel which had been trapped by the growth of the tree against which it had been leant.
Where the weight of the top of the leaning wheel had pushed against the trunk of the tree, a blister of wood had bulged out and wrapped itself around the upper parts of the wheel’s metal, completely encasing a part of its rim and the outer sections of some of its spokes. Indeed, it’s not clear whether this happened twice with two branches of the same tree or with two different trees growing side-by-side. Either way, the wheel is now firmly locked in place by two tree trunks.
As the tree’s growth had pushed it up, the wheel had been too heavy to lift into the air, but the relentless growth of the tree had slowly but surely claimed ownership of the wheel. The fact that our neighbour has cropped both trunks with a chainsaw will probably make no difference to the growth and the permanent capture of the wheel.
We’re not sure from which perspective this is the more interesting. There was the farmer who must have rolled the wheel into the clearing and then leant it against the two trunks, before turning to leave it in what would become a more permanent resting place than he would ever have imagined. And there is the tree whose discomfort, caused by the ceaseless pressing of the sharp metal, grew its flesh out and over the wheel’s rim like scar tissue. The one was over and done with in a couple of minutes. The other took decades and continues even now, well after all the farmer’s labouring had ceased.