The European Tree of the Year contest, run by the Environmental Partnership Association since , looks for the best loved trees from countries across Europe. The Brimmon Oak in Wales came a close second. People will be able to get behind the Gilwell Oak when voting for the competition opens on 1 February. We're passionate about protecting woods and trees and creating new woods for people and wildlife, but we always need your help. Fe dderbyniodd Ce A non-profit making company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No. VAT No. But before I could answer, she grabbed my wrists.
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I will not lose my only living one. She brought me into her arms and held me close, her whole body shaking, her tears mingling with mine. I held her back tightly, mug and all; I held her back as if the mug had done its magic and all her horrors were all over. I held her bruised face to my chest and ran my hand over her tangled hair. The next morning, before my father woke, I replaced his favorite mug with the replica the fairy had given me. I hid the real one under my bed, among the toys I no longer played with; the toys my mother had made me keep for my future sisters.
The rest of the morning, I was distracted with anticipation. My father had his usual three mugs of tea; neither he nor my mother noticed anything odd about the fairy mug. My father said nothing about the tea other than his usual morning banter. As he spoke and as he swapped his tea out for water, I checked constantly for signs of poisoning—slurred speech, cloudy eyes—but my father remained smiling and talkative as ever. He was at the window as he always was, his beard greasy and black.
His smile wide for all the customers. If my father was indeed poisoned, he showed no sign of it. Anson Farmer came by in the late afternoon. He bought a blackberry pie with blackberries from a neighboring farm. I saw your daughter with the Tailor boy last night. Might want to keep a leash on that one. I checked his eyes; they were not bloodshot.
The Hollow Tree, Durbanville
My father hovered around me for the rest of the day, checking my crusts, commenting on my work. Or perhaps because I was hovering around him so that I could smell his breath as he leaned over me. But I found no smell of rot or death on him; no evidence of poisoning. Had my bargain been for nothing? Had I failed to save my mother? Had I failed to save myself? When my father locked up the window for the night, my mother and I set to cleaning, and she cleaned again what I had cleaned. She cleaned it twice as hard. I knew what was coming. My father had turned his attentions on me.
He came in, carrying the fairy mug, and set it down on the counter. This time, he inspected everything, which was twice cleaned and three times as well-done. But he went over with extra care, feeling, sniffing, even tasting his fingers, all while watching me.
The Hollow Tree at Old Oak
And his hand closed around my wrist, and my stomach twisted around myself, and I felt my whole body go cold. I had trouble swallowing as if I was trying to swallow all my fear, all the coming pain. I was as weak as a rag doll, and as simple. Before I could move. Before my father could take me anywhere, there was a flash of red, then white, like a match strike. Followed quickly by the crunch of teeth on bone. She held hers in her hand, and I put mine in my dress pocket, closing my fist around it as Pastor Laeren spoke to us and all of Stowe about the legacies of great men.
As my father was lowered into the ground, my mother did not cry. I did not cry either.
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Anson Farmer came up to my mother and held her hand once it was all over. Silas Baker was a much loved man in Stowe, but he was also a curious man. We were relieved. This time I did not care if Anson Farmer saw. This time I did not care what Anson Farmer thought. This would have to be enough.
And he smiled and looked at his hands. I went to the tree and knocked three times.
The air changed. The mushrooms shook off their dew. The Hollow Tree twisted and turned; it groaned like a mourning deer. Its yawning trunk snapped shut, and when it opened, the fairy walked out and toward me on those long long legs. Her eyes were wide with anticipation. I held up the lock of hair, and she accepted it with her pointed fingers. Her too-long chin was turned down as she inspected the black strands. We will both be happy. Several months later, my sister was born. She had black hair like my father. Her legs and arms were long, and she had a pointed chin.
She merely loved my sister and showed her all the joy she showed me throughout my life. But over the years, things would go missing: combs, forks, toys. My mother and I knew better than to ask. I would find her at the Hollow Tree, talking to the mushrooms, playing in the dew.
Each time I found her, I would take her home. We would leave the blossoming Hollow Tree behind. We would leave behind its birdsong and the gifts. We held close to one another, my sister and I, and held close to our mother, as the town watched and gossiped and whispered that something was not right. We held close, because we had to. Because our secret was the kind to keep from others, not the kind to keep from ourselves. She is bisexual and disabled from a straight flush of mental health diagnoses. The Hollow Tree offers extensive out door play areas comprising jungle gyms, climbing frames, slides and pony rockers.
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