Sentinels and gnarliness, wild spaces and a grumble…..

bare and dismal

Gah, I’m still all full of cold, with a snuffley red nose and a lap full of tissues….I’d tried to cut out as much dairy from my diet as I know that always makes my colds worse, then stupidly I ate a whole load of cheese at the weekend (think Animal from the muppets at his drums, and that’s an idea of what I’m like with a plate of cheesey delights)…..however we had lovely weather at the weekend, lots of Winter sunshine and the windows and doors were all flung wide open so the fresh air could fill the house…..the mornings were very mild to some we’ve been having and while I’m catching the odd weather report on the wireless where speculations of a snowy Easter are being made, it also feels like we’re really easing more into Spring now and saying farewell to Winter ……

I really didn’t feel up to going for a walk at the weekend, but instead sorted out the rest of the foggy and frosty photos from my walk the other week…..this is a view of the marshes I don’t often share, it’s not one of the meadow pastures that fill with wild flowers, though in the Summer the odd cow can be found grazing…..however in the mist the trees seem more noticeable than on the clearer days….tall shapes lurking at the edge of my vision, standing guard like sentinels…..it feels like they’ve crept up behind me while my back was turned…..

branches span out like veins through a heart

All the branches are bare for the moment and I probably should know which trees these are but I don’t, I’ve made some scribbles in a walks journal to remind myself to check back on them once they’re in leaf…..the mist and fog were so thick that this fellow truly just loomed right up out of nowhere and completely took me by surprise……the trail is quite meandering and follows round a tangled mass of old blackberry bushes and blackthorn trees, then you turn a corner and are faced by all this openness, which on a day that’s foggy seems particularly eerie and unsettling…….the big trees only grow in this one section, the other meadows have just the odd blackthorn or hawthorn tree.

a gnarly tangle

In comparison to their neighbours these both look gnarly, scrubby old things, trees that seem to have appeared from out of the pages of a fairy tale or folk story…twisted branches that catch and grasp at your clothes and hair like witches fingers, all full of malicious tree spirits, or things of that nature, it doesn’t help their appearance that both trees tend to be covered in mouldy looking lichens and green moss……but for me these are trees for celebrating, they’re part of my foragers store cupboard…..come Autumn they’ll be filled with sloes and haws which will be used to transform gin and be hubbled and bubbled with sugar and appples to make jellies and syrups…. my own witches cauldron of magickal happenings……

blackthorn grove

A little spot that has made my heart really quicken from when I first noticed it is this wee patch of wilderness…….umpteen tiny blackthorn bushes…..I’m not sure how long blackthorns take to grow but fingers crossed any “conservation”* work done on the marshes will leave these well alone so they’ll grow up into a fat old thicket of tasty sloes…..

They had a few sloes on them last year, and at just below knee height make picking the berries much easier than reaching up into the twisty gnarls of some of the older trees…they also provide handy little perch points for all the tits and sparrows that live near by.

What I can’t really get across is just how bitterly cold it is walking over the marshes on mornings like this…it’s easy to wrap up with scarves, shawls, hats and mittens but there’s a real open freezer door quality to the air which soon numbs cheeks and noses, nips at knees and rises up from the ground, there’s a scent of decaying leaves and damp which in an enclosed space would smell pretty bad but here in the open it’s the smell of the land sleeping, signs of something stirring are apparent in flourishes of blossom, but for the most part it feels like I’m walking through the wildest of slumbers…….

*there’s been a lot of so called “conservation” work done over the marshes and in some of the green spaces where I live over the past couple of years,  and as is often the way when things change it’s been causing a lot of fuss with people I see and chat to when I go out for walks….and while I realize some work is needed, I think someone has been let loose who is more than just a bit gung ho with the chainsaw, trees seem rather heavily pruned and pollarded, or just plain cut down…complaints to the council seem for the most part to either get given the run around or fall on deaf ears……one section where there was a lovely bank of elder has all been cut down, now all planted with bulbs to look pretty….their reasons were it was all overgrown with brambles which was a nonsence, there weren’t any brambles there at all and it made my heart sink when I saw what had happened….A few years back a huge metal fence (it looks like something from a prison or high security area) was put up stopping entrance to one small woodland here …I know I wasn’t the only person to question why this was done and the replies given were numerous and all sounded like they were being made up on the hop….I wonder how many people really walk around here with their eyes open, taking note of the different blossoms, wild flowers, it’s home and habitiat for so much wildlife and birds….it just feels like someone is trying to pretty up all the little wild green spots without really caring about any of the long term effects…I ‘d understand a bit more their reasoning if these were spots which were being fly tipped and used as rubbish dumps but that wasn’t the case at all….sorry for grumbling but this has really been getting my goat of late.

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4 thoughts on “Sentinels and gnarliness, wild spaces and a grumble…..

  1. Oh dear Ericka! I don’t blame you for getting frustrated when that sort of thing is happening, decisions like that should be made by those who know and love and spend time there.
    Sorry you are still feeling ill, Abi has a grotty cold at mo, just waiting to see if the rest of us go down with it! We really need some spring weather, by that I idyllic spring weather not British spring weather!! Take care x

    1. As far as I can make out it’s all been handed over to a private group who I’m sure think they know best….there’s also a Residents Association who are planning to “pretty up” one of my favourite foraging spots…there’s a fence which okay , is a bit ramshackled, but it means I can climb through (imagining I’m ten again and am running wild and making dens) and get some beautiful red bottomed apples….the photo they showed in a local paper made me so cross, a group of adults all looking miserable in the Winter when all the trees were bare on what looked to be the most dismal looking weather day….it would have looked so different if the photo had been taken in the Summer, children kicking a ball about, hedgerows green and full of rosehips and “Catweasel” clambering about with her foraging basket x

      1. There’s loads that could be done here that don’t involve chopping everything in sight down…I could feed a small army on the foraging bounty we here but with daft great fences and over enthusiastic conservation it means I’m going to need to start looking a bit further afield which sort of spils the fun…I love getting stopped when I’m untangling myself from a hedge and am always hapy to show people spots to go or what you can eat, how to cook them, it’s amazing how many people have no idea what is right under their noses (or just above their heads) x

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