Fallen Giant – an inspiration for kids of all ages…

I settled down last night to read a bedtime story to my four year old Rosa, with our latest acquisition from the local library – the Alfie Out Of Doors storybook by Shirley Hughes. Within it is an incredible poem, accompanied by this beautiful image, which not only conveys the simple joy of playing on a fallen tree but also the deep sadness of knowing that the tree will never stand tall again.   

Alfie Out of Doors, by Shirley HughesIt led Rosa to ask some insightful, thoughtful and unanswerable questions, as only four years old do, including “why do people hurt trees, dad?”. Answers on a postcard would be gratefully received.  

What followed was a rather challenging yet invigorating chat about the priorities of the modern world and our relationship with nature. The hardest thing was trying to explain to a four year old why some people value money more than trees. It’s impossible, because it’s just not logical. 

Go on, try it out for yourselves – the poem in all its glory is below…

Steve Mulligan, Government Affairs Officer

Fallen Giant by Shirley Hughes

A big tree
lying down
is like a giant
with torn-out roots
instead of feet.
It’s like a ship
sailing far out to sea,
or a house with many rooms.
It has places to hide
and swing on
and climb along.
A big tree
lying down
is a good place to play.
But you can never make it stand up again.
Not ever.


About Kaye Brennan

Trying vegan, staying warm. Occasional bursts of words.
This entry was posted in Campaigning, Climate Change and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Fallen Giant – an inspiration for kids of all ages…

  1. Frances Taylor says:

    You can still help save Oaken Wood! There is an online petition which needs just 500 signatures in order for the case to be taken to Europe, with a last ditch attempt at having the case overruled and hopefully rescuing this ancient woodland. If you haven’t done so already, please sign here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/941/667/937/save-ancient-english-wood-from-quarry/
    Many thanks

  2. Environmental lawyers don’t have many Sacred Texts, but one of them is a short 1974 book by Christopher D. Stone (an American) called “Should Trees have [Legal] Standing? – Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects”. It had a foreword by the greatest ecologist of all time, Garrett Hardin – and the idea was triggered by a huge row over a beautiful place in the Rockies which was going to be turned into an artificial Leisure Park.

    Garrett Hardin is either ignored or defamed these days, and I don’t know what happened to Christopher Stone or to the beauty spot. I think the case nearly won in the US courts, but not quite – and after that the idea of Nature or a Tree or an Animal having legal rights went on the back burner, despite the US judges being more favourable than you might expect.

    Sometimes when ideas are buried they aren’t dead, just lying fallow for the right time to bloom. Their guardians tend to be university lawyers, rather than practising lawyers – for obvious reasons.

  3. Kay Haw says:

    Some trees are just amazing and as long as some of their roots are still in the ground they will send up phoenix branches and regenerate along the stem. Trees are the most wonderful living beings on the planet!

  4. Ash says:

    Peter, that is so right, but how do we move away from the situation & where is it that we want to go?

    • Garrett Hardin thought long and hard about how to prevent the “Tragedy of the Commons” being as depressingly inevitable as the word “Tragedy” implies. If you try and find everything GH wrote (this is not easy), and then read it – then you will have laid out before you in a true Socratic way (i.e. asking questions, not making sweeping statements) all the possible ways out of the rat trap.

      A good summary of his work was given in his obituary or “Festschrift” by a Californian colleague, Carl Jay Bajerna of Grand Valley State University, you can read it and download it free here:

      A list of other tributes to him can be found on the same site:

      This is THE major environmentalist of all time, to date. One day, Hollywood will do a bio-pic of their local hero! Not.

      If Hardin did plump for one potential solution (I am not sure he ever did), then humanity would have to somehow get it A) accepted and B) implemented – another massive hurdle. It seems a bit hopeless. So we must all just muddle on, each doing our bit in whatever way we can – writing letters to the paper e.g., if we are not up for physical work. It all adds up, in the end.

      Environmental Law is a powerful weapon, already constructed in the form of UN Conventions – it only needs to be USED, but of course working lawyers will not use it, because their income comes from Developers who are always in court for one reason or another (usually at one another’s throats, but sometimes the Councils get mad with them). Environmental Lawyers are not interested in deploying a “Final Solution” weapon like a UN Convention – they need to keep the conflict going, or their income stops. “No profit in peace” as the song by Ocean Colour Scene says!

  5. Peter Kyte says:

    It is difficult to explain to people why the natural world matters so much, when most are living entirely in an unnatural world, including most politicians. As a species we have lost sight of our purpose and keep on chasing the illusion of materialism to bring us happiness.

  6. Julie Taylor says:

    Our ancient trees are truly irreplaceable. I believe it is vital to share our passion for trees with our own children and others whenever possible. My children would argue vehemently that trees and woodland are much more important for this planet than so-called ‘development’.

  7. Even in death trees make a contribution to our lives and to the conservation of insects and fungi.
    Some trees need to be felled and I would include in this some necessary to make way for developments both residential and infrastructure. This give an opportunity for equivalent planting of native trees for our children, grandchildren etc and surely this is what campaigns should be about. Even relocating old stumps and cuttings in new plantings can be beneficial in establishing wildlife habitats.
    Some trees need to be lost unfortunately and fighting lost causes, although it helps make a point, could be seen as not making the best use of limited resources.
    I believe the HST is a project that will, of course, necessitate the loss of some trees and a change of environment for others but is it a disaster or an opportunity to argue credibly for new woodland?

Sorry, comments are closed as we have moved to a new site: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blogs/woodland-trust/

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