Tuesday 2 February 2010

Snowdrop, Snowflake

Just came back from the woods. Tired, muddy, happy. It was a good day. Tom, Sorrel and I and the children from Year Six spent several hours tuning into the season, running like wolves through the big trees, sitting round a camp fire, in a tipi, in Cathy's log cabin where she lives off-grid. The children asked her how she lived here far away from the city. How did she dry her clothes? How did she shoot the animals she ate? What fish did she catch? Cathy told them about making dandelion and burdock, about her solar panel, how the Neolithic peoples once lived here. How this watery wood harbours special creatures because it provides just the right habitat for raft spiders, dormice, nightingales . . .

My crew, the Nightingales, gave a performance at the end of the day. We wore hazel crowns with pheasant feathers and made everyone find us as we all hid amongst the coppiced trees and made our calls. We built shelters and nests and fell into the mud a lot. It rained and no one cared. I felt catapaulted into the day that some call Candlemas, some Imbolc but without names is the moment the year starts to make one small step towards the light.

It's when you pay attention to small things that the world opens up. The snowdrops amongst the leaves, the snowflakes that look like small planets, almost indistinguishable from the full moon that pours through the window. Yesterday Mark and I watched sunup down on the shoreline. There was a luminous moon going down behind us over the snow-speckled land, golden marshes, big sky, moving water and the sun breaking through on the horizon. I forgot about oil tankers and just watched the glow from that bright disc as it suffused the sky and poured down on the dark liquid horizon, as it ribboned its way down through the waves to our feet standing amongst the stones on the frosted hard sand.

At some point you realise that this small world is what we have, with all its fleeting beauty, and these forms are what we have, with all their physical limits in time and space.

Each snowflake a planet.

Each tree a galaxy.

Each child a universe.

All visitors here for a short time. Earth bound, muddy, happy.

Hazel in Wrong's Covert
Snowdrops in Reydon Churchyard
Snowflakes and Full Moon by Mark Watson

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