Last Saturday I was away with friends from church on an "away day". We spent the day at a 19th century home of the former Dukes of Somerset. It is now owned by an international mission organization.
A staff member took some of us on a tour of the house and grounds.
Of greatest interest, she said, are some of the trees in the grounds. They are so old they are listed and once in a while some officials come to inspect them.
She then pointed to us a very old tree, apologies for not remembering what it was called, that had fallen down in the last winter. It was a winter so harsh that even we in Greater London became housebound.
The tree had fallen in the night, right across the path we were walking. It was the tallest tree of its kind "in the whole of the Seven Counties".
Pity, but she pointed out that a sapling in its previous shadow was doing well.
The old tree had fallen. The wood was cracked and therefore useless. They offered it to people in the area but nobody wanted to take it away.
Ah! But a sapling is now growing sturdily where it would never have survived due to the shadow cast by the old tree. The old (now fallen) tree would have drained the ground of all its goodness and water making it impossible for a new sapling to be established.
The old tree had not fallen all that long ago. Now the sapling is nearly six foot tall, free to absorb the heat and light to thrive; free from competition in the roots department.
Some hundreds of years down the road it may yet again be the tallest of its kind in the Seven Counties. Who knows?
When I got home I noted the news that the MM and SM had just announced their retirement.
Ah! I thought.