There is something inspiring and comforting about a tree-lined road where the branches scrape and groan in the wind, shedding limbs throughout the year and arch gracefully over a shadowy, darkened landscape. It's the kind of road made for movies where spectres lurk and shadows chase fear into the very hearts of all: the kind of road acting as a portal between worlds.
In the Game of Thrones the Dark Hedges road (Ireland) features in the scene where Arya and Gendry are fleeing from the King's Landing in Season Two. This backdrop lends itself willingly to such a fantasy. Imagination sparked by their ancient gnarly beauty creates a time warp, a place where anything is possible. Those trees oversaw the desolation of Ireland during the potato famine.
Ex-slaves, escaping their hard lives from the country south of us, purportedly planted the black locust trees, on my children’s road. In the spring, the trees' blossoms are filled with the sound of bees and the smell of heaven. These trees were sown by the hands of those that withstood unbearable suffering.
On the Pesserdijk Weg in Holland the trees that lined the road to my father's farm oversaw the devastation of World War Two and the young men walking by as they headed to the forest where they would remain hidden for weeks on end from the Nazi regime.
Long-lived trees are witnesses to our past. They watched the injustices and the joys that life offered. They remained steadfast, rooted deeply in the soil. Tolkien understood this when he wrote of the trees coming to life in his Lord of the Rings trilogy. They were fighting for all the evil they had observed over the years and for all the evil, yet to come.
Now when I walk south in the shadows of these trees that line this road I hear their song of hope, of resilience. But I also hear their long memory that stretches as far as they are tall.