Sherwood

I love this land.

Today, we visited Sherwood Forest. Not far from home, but somewhere I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing since I was small. Now I bring others.

The stories held in the earth and the trees, the creatures and (yes) the tourist attraction all entice people, and will continue to do so. We carry our myths on in the telling, but it’s so wonderful to see the young and young-at-heart enjoying the physical experience of visiting a place that’s in those stories.

Just wandering in the woods – always a pleasure, and such an important part of my life.

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The Major Oak – around a thousand years old (apparently), now supported by manmade struts. But still standing between earth and sky, with the trunk a gateway to another world…

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Place and Tribe

Today, I drove over 200 miles, a round trip across a good width of this country. County boundaries were crossed, towns and villages navigated. From sun to rain and back again.

I understand that in some countries, this wouldn’t count for much. But here, it’s a long way. I’m pretty tired now.

But such trips are wonderful for exploring the diversity of my lovely homeland… while at the same time, feeling the similarities.

We have our different tribes still. Nottingham is different in mood and feel to Derby (they’re approximately 15 miles apart). Both are far removed in life and geography from London, Newcastle or – crossing amorphous national boundaries – Cardiff or Edinburgh.

Yet, when I speak to people of ‘spirits of the land’, they always nod in understanding. That almost territorial ‘vibe’, made up of the human societies which live in these places and demarcate the boundaries, but not confined to just the human residents. This is still very much felt, whether consciously or when reminded.

The land my partner and I visited today was beautiful – birch and gorse, with a magnificent lake in glorious sunshine (and then an equally marvellous rainstorm!). It had its own definite character, and we were glad to get to know it a little.

As I drove home, I passed way-markers. You are Now Entering Lincolnshire. Then Nottinghamshire. Sherwood Forest. Derbyshire – and home.

I reached out to those ancient trees as I passed. We waved to the magpies and dodged the ravens playing on the roads. I felt the pull of my own little place as I moved nearer. The spirits of the land are clear in this wild countryside, even as the tarmac and concrete of civilization try to tame it. It’s good to explore, to reach out and actively notice, feel that connection.

Back on my hilltop, I breathe deeply. My home, my place, where I am known and held. Before I head out again tomorrow.

Tired Reflection

Such a busy week.

Outside once again with the puppies this evening, I’m so tired, I’m operating largely on sensation.

I walk through wet grass, feeling it tickle my bare feet through my sandals. A much-needed warm breeze brushes my arms, even hours after sunset. Bats flit through trees. Tiny lambs peer curiously through the gate to their field-home.

I come back to a cosy home, the last few chores and a welcome cup of tea before snuggling into bed with my partner.

My space. My neighbours. My land. My loved ones.

Gladness.

Two Things… (Part Two)

Three years ago, this happened. Please follow the link and have a read.

This was the first time that my partner and I stepped into the circle at Stonehenge, barefoot on the grass at sunset. My breath was literally taken away, and I couldn’t speak for a few minutes, such was the weight (literal, historical, spiritual… everything!) of the place. Not just the stones, but the land, Salisbury Plain itself.

A huge turning point in my work, it was also one of the most memorable days of my life. We gained some wonderful friends, joined together in love and community, following in the steps of our ancestors by truly marking such an occasion as we did.

I give thanks to those stones, to this land, and to the lovely people who asked us – a deep honour and privilege. The magic is still being made…

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(Image copyright to the talented team at Peacock Obscura)

Joy in Spring

Walking the dogs this grey and damp morning, a beautiful sight stopped me in my tracks. The first bright flowers of blossom in our wee grove.

You can see the scrub that surrounds the area, before those who look after the land start work to clear it from the winter. But the hardy stalwarts come through each year – and like old friends, I’m so glad to see them.

I do love this hilltop, with the flourishing green and the lambs playing in nearby fields. May that wonder and joy never cease; and may we celebrate those we share our land with, wherever we are.

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Fog

Today, the hilltop is surrounded by a very thick fog. This isn’t actually that unusual here, given the river that runs nearby, but this feels different. According to the BBC, it’s due to intense smog and Saharan sand that’s blowing in from mainland Europe.

So this fog is a mixture of the usual moisture, as well as international debris… I can’t help feeling a little amazed by that, on several levels. Ultimately, it is tangible evidence that our world is very much connected, and our actions impinge on others. Awareness can only be a good outcome from this.

But more immediately, I’m feeling rather unwell as a result. I don’t have asthma, and I know others are no doubt suffering deeply, especially in the cities. For me, it’s more dizziness… literally ‘fogged’ thoughts, almost.

When it’s regular fog from the river, I welcome the blanket that surrounds my home. It’s calm and comforting, encouraging time for rest and contemplation. This is very different – the blanket is gritty and uncomfortable. The land seems aware that something is up; the birds are silent today, there’s no wind to move things… effects are being felt.

Perhaps that’s the direction our ponderings should take today, then. The fog will pass, but its lessons can be learned. Sometimes we can’t just charge ahead regardless of consequences, and our connection to our land (and air) is more present than we might think.

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