Leaves are beginning to appear on the birches in the patches of forest which surround our home. Everything is budding, but it is especially lovely to see the birches coming back to life, their white, ghostlike trunks, and their wispy, bowed, black branches at last dotted with the brilliant green of the emerging leaves.
The birches are huge here, at least to the Australian eye. I remember the three birches we had in our front garden when I was a teenager in Tamworth, three trees which struggled up to about four or five metres height before finally giving up the ghost and dying almost before they had passed the sapling stage. The birches here are closer to 20 metres, with thick sturdy trunks lined by the black rings of age, and the forest is half full of them, interspersed as they are with pines and firs.
We live, after all, in Björkrisvägen, which means “birch twig way” – a fitting name for our new address!