I went to the Botanic Gardens yesterday. It was one of those times when I wished I knew a lot more about plants,but one of the things I did enjoy was seeing the oldest tree in he Gardens which is a Yew and was planted in 1645 during the English Civil War. Just looking at this tree, how strong and healthy it is made me feel really insignificant and put me in mind of something Horace said in Ode 2.14 (West translation),
‘We must leave the earth, our home,
and the wife we love, and none of these trees you tend
except the hated cypresses
will go with their short-lived master.’
Seeing that wonderful old Yew really brought it home to me, how trees go on renewing themselves, living and dying back, but we live once only then die. No wonder Horace advised us to seize the day.
(The Black Pine, planted in 1800 was also pretty spectacular).
After lunch I went to the Bodleian and picked up my pre-ordered books from the stack. The system worked without a hitch and I spent the afternoon in the Latin room. It’s a fantastic place, lots of people in there, some tapping away on laptops, some chilled and reading – a real feeling of being in a place of learning. Trouble was I found it difficult to stay awake. I don’t know whether it was the heat of the afternoon, or all the fresh air I’d treated myself to in the Botanic Gardens. In any event I did manage to do quite a bit of reading then took myself off to Starbucks for some blueberry swirl cake.