We began walking in just before seven, sky pale blue and pink, the air a riot of birdsong, trees all around us.
here in the roam of a fallen birch
where there is a way
life will flow
willed towards growth
and in death, more growth again
in the birch’s lean
you could find a face
a dragon’s head
eyes deep in the folds of wood
it reaches out
branches become trunks
towards the call of a buzzard
and the wind roaring from the west
sends the old oaks into applause
We had a spot in mind on the open fell but have decided after an hour that it’s not right. Up here we’re confronted by walls and fences, and no birds save the odd lark fluttering from the grass, startled by our presence.
Wild is a willed word, a willed and willing place.
We backtrack into the woods and it is as if we are stepping into wild – this place is loud with song, the tree roots and boulders are covered with moss, there are dead trees and live trees – there is a pulse, life supported but not inhibited.
Rob is making photographs now. I’m sitting on a rock looking at the ground: hundreds of hazel nuts; brown curled leaves of hazel, birch and oak; branches and twigs, some coated with mosses and lichens; tufts of grass; small stones; wood sorrel; catkins. And beneath all this, a deep dark soil, made from years of a woodland’s fallings and the curiosity and hunger of browsing animals, stitched together with tree roots and fungi. There’s a blue tit on a branch above the canvas, picking at grubs, bobbing and singing. Overhead, a buzzard mews, and the wind picks up, sending the old oaks into applause.
Read the longer piece about placing the canvas in the blog here.