The leaves of the ginkgo don’t seem that special at first glance. Not in summer, anyway. Yes, they have that pretty fan-shape and deep-green colour, but it’s only in autumn that the ginkgo’s beauty is truly revealed.
Instead of turning brown, its leaves turn a lovely, almost golden shade of yellow. And even after they’ve fallen down, they retain that colour, remaining bright and spotless long after the other autumn leaves have faded and decayed.
The ginkgo is elegant – a tree that seems grown and cultivated specifically for our enjoyment, to be admired in gardens and parks. When I picked up this leaf, back in November 2018, I only wanted to have it as a keepsake. I pressed it between the pages of my diary and it’s still there now, parchment-like and slightly crumbling.
But the ginkgo is so much more. It is a living fossil, nearly unchanged in 200 million years. And what's even more, it is also extremely resilient. Six ginkgo trees growing between 1 and 2 kilometres from the 1945 atom bomb explosion in Hiroshima were among the few living things to survive the blast. They are still alive today, charred and battered but ultimately healthy.
I love the ginkgo tree. I love its golden leaves, not just for their beauty, but for the strength and perseverance they embody.
The ginkgo is still growing. We are still here. Still, in spite of everything.
I wrote a song about hope, long before I knew how much I needed it. On 22 January, I am sharing it with all of you. Here’s to another year, filled with lots of new music. I can't wait.