great oaks


They say great oaks from little acorns grow. Certainly the acorns I saw on my walk yesterday have triggered a chain of thought, which I think is likely to result in a a blog post of some length.

First of all, the first time I tried to translate that gem of traditional English wisdom into Spanish, I was met with blank stares.

Apparently, what I thought of as an acorn – una bellota – was never going to grow up into an oak tree – un roble. It was going to grow into an encina, which is a holm oak and, it seems, to those who raise livestock on the Spanish dehesa, that’s a pig of a very different colour.

I’m really not so sure, as we did have real oak trees en el pueblo and they certainly produced acorns, which they shed liberally in the autumn winds.

There were two trees in particular, which grew on the neighbouring plot of land and towered above our greenhouse – a vast, mostly empty, building with a corrugated fibreglass roof. I remember being in there one gusty Autumn afternoon and having quite a Henny Penny moment when I heard the acorns skittering across the roof.


The greenhouse wasn’t made of glass, but the fibreglass was translucent, and bathed everything in a strange green light. Mostly, we used the space for storing tools and logs, among which there must have been encina, oak and pine, as well as oddments of other trees that had to be pruned or cut down.

This is an old photo that I’ve manage to find in my files.

firewood stack

From the moment I saw the pile of wood, I knew there had to be a poem there. Again, I’ve retrieved this from the archives:

There’s a poem in the woodshed

In the space where the logs abut the wall,
dimmed by years of rain and dirt
glass filters sunlight to pale green.

I glimpse the spreadeagle silhouette
of a lizard tangled in spider’s silk
and reach to set it free. Shadow-thin

it crumbles to a memory.


And finally, before this post becomes entirely unmanageable, let’s bring it back round to acorns. Or more specifically to oak trees. This is the cover of The Lonesome Daisy, a children’s book written under the pen-name David Aston and although the daisy is the eponymous heroine, the old oak tree and the squirrel see quite a lot of action, too.

lonesome daisy book cover

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

3 thoughts on “great oaks”

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