Posted by George Morrison

Countryside in Autumn              Word on the Week          13th November 2021.

There is a saying that all news is local.   Results of competitions that happen countrywide find their matching result nearer home.   Thus it was with the 2021 Tidy Towns Competition when our local Village of Kill carried off the Co Kildare Gold prize for Category D towns.   Congratulations to all concerned!

The event was cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic.   This year technology was used to judge the entry remotely.    Perhaps this enabled the local black spots to remain ‘off camera’!   Actually these are being eradicated annually in inventive ways that add to the floral content of the village.

Our tree landscape is under attack.   The ash, for so long the wood of choice for making hurley’s among other things, has succumbed to the ash dieback disease.   These magnificent trees are showing signs of stress when attacked by the disease which has, for the present, no known cure.

Another tree, which produces delightful blooms in the late spring, is the rhododendron.   It grows well, perhaps too well, in the wet soils of the West coast.   Hundreds of acres in the reeks have succumbed to the multi-stemmed shrub, which can live for 130 years and reach four metres in height in dense thickets.        Its leaves are poisonous to animals and honey, made from its nectar is also poisonous.

Birds and insects feed on the ash.   The dense clusters of seeds which hang out from the branches, when they ripen, are food for red and grey squirrels and various types of finches.   On the other hand, nothing eats the invasive rhododendron.   It drives out other species of tree and with them the animal life they supported.

There has been a large drive to re-forest parts of Ireland.   This is being done largely by farmers planting native species.   The aim is to restore habitat for birds and animals which, in some cases are threatened with extinction.    They also moderate climate change.  However, thanks to a dysfunctional licencing system operated by our Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine there is a large backlog of work which has almost brought planting trees to a standstill!

So we have in Nature the good trees dying and the bad trees taking over.   These things are not what they are supposed to be.   That’s what the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Romans (Chapter 8 verses 20 to 21).    Humans are included as we see in ourselves and the Department of Agriculture that things are not what they are supposed to be! (Chapter 7 verses 19 to 20).

In the Bible there is a gold prize which Job saw in spite of all his troubles.   It was the realisation that one day he would come forth as gold (refined by his life’s ordeal Chapter 23 verse 10).   This became a reality for the Elders in Revelation Chapter 4 verses 4 and 9 who laid their golden crowns before the throne of the one who had redeemed them from their sins and by Jesus blood had ransomed people for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.    They sang a new song and so will we by God’s grace.