At this time of year I always find myself drawn in to the shapes of naked trees. Sometimes they remind me of ballet dancers, petrified in wood. I imagine them, with their arms thrown up, stretching, grasping at something, anything, to set them free from being rooted to the earth. Ballet dancers shouldn't have to be bound by the laws of gravity.
Sometimes they're not.
Anyway, I thought I'd share with you my reminiscences of early summer. In between making baskets, I've been sorting through my photos. Photos like these are perfect for me at this time of year. A reminder that winter is not here to stay, it's a part of a cycle and will wane. I do love winter, but spring and early summer are my favourite..
This is from a camp I did on the land in early summer. I felt right cosy.
Our woodland is a typical Exmoor woodland. Confined to the slopes - but not for long! It's not the steepest forest I have been in though. I think that this woodland is well over a hundred years old. There is quite a few trees that are a couple of hundred years old, they tend to be the ones near the top of the slope, that haven't grown very straight. There are lots of lings (tree seed-lings) in the woodland now, as it's had some time to rest from cattle grazing. It was heavily grazed by cattle and sheep before. Thi s type of woodland grazing, if managed properly, would potentially be beneficial to the regeneration of the under canopy of the woodland. However it wasn't managed at all and the cattle caused a lot of erosion, damaged the bilberry and fern population (as well as all the other herbage) and prevented the lings from growing.
This is from one of our hedges. *sigh*
This is the top of our woodland. Although this picture doesn't show the oldest trees, these ones are quite old. Standing next to them is a grounding experience. To grow here these trees have to be tough. The grazing has kept a lush grassy ground cover. It looks great, but isn't very diverse.
I sat here for a good few hours just watching the light through the trees. It's very sheltered here, you can tell by looking at the wild flowers growing in the grass.
I don't know if my nest looks cosy in this photo. It felt cosy to be in at the time. Normally I would have my tarp backed up against a hedge or something as extra wind protection. It wasn't windy though and I was using the huge oak log that's out of shot but in front of my nest for splitting lots of wood and making baskets. The stack of coppice wood at the back of the photo is the poles for the large shelter.
Go nowhere without an umberella.
On our land we have red deer. The stags are magnificent. This one is a 5 pointer (the amount of points on his antlers). It tells you how old he is I think. There is normally five of these stags, hanging out together, munching their way through our regeneration area. It's been a while since I last saw them though.
I almost hunted one of these stags. With a gun and everything. I had decided it was important to be able to do it, part of the whole meat thing. Being able to feed, clothe and shelter myself is of huge importance to me and on this piece of land a stag would go a long way towards all of those things. Meat, skin for clothes, antler to make all sorts of things and tendons to make strong cord.
In the end I just couldn't do it. A step too far for me at the moment. Theory is all very well, but listening to your heart in the moment is important. In those moments everything is stripped bare and all that is left is pure insight. Well, I may not have had pure insight, but my heart certainly stopped me shooting this stag.