I am in England, enjoying some time with my uncle and aunt and cousins. it is cold and rainy here, just like it usually is. but i love spending time with family, and it is great to be able to relax without any responsibilities. tomorrow i will explore London which should be awesome. i love being alone in a big city. i already learned something fascinating here…we were on a gorgeous walk around checkers (the prime-minister’s retreat place) and came across three huge, sprawling trees. their trunks were twisted and thick, and their branches jutted out horizontally, with leaves that brushed the ground. they were knotted, gnarly and ancient beech trees. i learned that unless these trees grow in a grove, they have no reason to reach straight for the sun, so they spread out into a twisted display of unattractive branches. As we continued walking, we came upon a section of woods where the trees were distinctively straight, with smooth glossy bark and tall, elegant branches that stretched towards the sun. they were beech trees. i could draw all kinds of deep parallels (and did in my mind). but i thought i’d just leave you with that mental image of the same type of trees that have grown so differently because of their environment.