My gate to Greenwich Park is the Vanbrugh Park one, near the southeast corner. I usually cut diagonally across the rolling landscape to get to the village. For a few months now, I’ve been making a detour because I need to see a particular someone every time I’m in this neighbourhood.
On a winding path, between Maze Hill Gate and One Tree Hill, there stands an ancient sweet chestnut descended (for sure) from one of Tolkien’s books. There it is, sturdy and shrewd, nonchalantly confronting the winds. Of course, there are many venerable 400 year olds in Greenwich, but what makes this one even more special is the path next to him.
The concrete path had been broken down and moved about a half meter away from its roots.
I’d like to think the tree got a doctor’s appointment and this was the prescribed cure for sore roots. Or that some pixies that wake up after 6 pm, when the park gates close, have mended the path because this tree is their favourite hangout.
But I’m afraid it’s just the work of a couple of path builders summoned by worried gardeners. And for me, this is magic, because a tree holding its ground for centuries deserves to spread its tired roots. It’s magic because I know cities in this world where they would have done everything possible to save the path.