Caroline Voaden tweeted on 4 May·” Covid memorial – how about we plant a new forest instead of building something out of stone? A living tree for every person who has died. A place to sit, reflect, breathe… A place that truly reflects where we are right now.“
What a wonderful idea! And let us go global with this idea – it could build international solidarity based on the twin very real concerns that everyone on this planet shares: remembering those who died in this world-wide epidemic and minimising climate change.
We could try to have one big forest in each country – or perhaps an arboretum where we grow at least one of every native species?
Or, and this particularly appeals to me, we could think globally, but act locally. In cities, towns and even villages, trees could be dotted around in small groups without needing to be in an actual park.
Trees of one kind can work very successfully embedded into pavements, like the plane trees in Queens Gate, London. They are pollarded in winter, when the flats need every bit of light, and come into leaf in summer.
In general, though conifers of course have their place, it is more environmentally friendly to plant broad-leaved trees than conifers.
Returning to Caroline Voaden’s tweet, there is something which appeals to the imagination about planting new life as part of our homage to (and memorialising of) those that have died. And people of some religions (Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism for example) believe in reincarnation/rebirth, though few believe that trees are included in this cycle. Nevertheless, people of all faiths and none do sometimes scatter the ashes of someone they love over a favourite rose bush, say, so that the ashes nourish and become part of the living rose.
I think Mary Oliver puts it better than I possibly could in her poem, ‘Wild Geese’ *”
|“…Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.|
|Meanwhile the world goes on.|
|Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain|
|are moving across the landscapes,|
|over the prairies and the deep trees,|
|the mountains and the rivers…”|
Caroline Voaden , who tweets as @CarolineVoaden, is a Liberal Democrat politician and international journalist, who served as leader of the LibDems in the European Parliament, following her election as Member of the European Parliament for the South West England and Gibraltar constituency in 2019. …
Caroline was widowed at 34 in 2003, and subsequently became chair of a national charity that supports young widowed men and women – WAY, Widowed and Young. She is only too aware of the long-term effects such an event can have on the whole wider family, from bereavement support and benefits, to lone parenthood and mental health issues. Caroline has written a book about her experience, ‘If there’s anything I can do…’.See Caroline’s page on amazon here