Yesterday, to Knightacott Woods – a clear crisp day after a lot of dull very cold weather. It was sunny, with just a slight sharp breeze under the trees.
I walked into the stillness. Gradually the noise of ‘civilisation’ in my head subsided, and the stillness deepened. No humans about – just clear birdsong penetrating and echoing through the canopy, and the sparkling stream running quietly alongside me. I was captivated by the vibrant green aliveness of everything.
Looking up at the trees, I briefly wondered about them being the earth’s aerials or antennae, and about their absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen for us to use. I felt grateful and connected. I could sense the oxygen seeping into my body (though that might have been imagination!) I could certainly feel my breathing slowing down.
I came to the place where once, when I was sitting by the side of the pathway, changing my camera battery – somebody’s Labrador dog ran over me, not just once but twice, with its muddy feet, overbalancing me each time. When I demanded the owner kept control of her dog, her reply was: “People don’t expect to take their dog for a walk, and find people sitting on the grass like a garden gnome”! I was speechless. My friend Jacky said I should have said: “People don’t expect to get run over twice by unruly dogs when they are changing their camera batteries”. Wish I had thought of that!
I looked for the place where I made my piece ‘Ancient Sunlight’, I think in late autumn 2011 (I’ll put a pic at the end of the post) – but had difficulty recognising it. Everywhere looked so different – previously, everywhere had been mellow and golden, and abundantly leafy, now it was open, with clear views through the trees; the banks of the stream were bare with roots exposed along the edges, reminding me of complicated Celtic carvings.
The sunlight was bright but cold, most of the ground was in shadow. I came to what I thought was a secluded pond that I did not remember, but on looking closer, saw that it was the stream greatly swollen in size, and taking a new course.
Clambering up the side of the footpath, away from the stream and into the woods, I sat down in the undergrowth like a gnome, and had a couple of hot drinks before continuing on my way.
I lost track of time, and seem to have come home with these images. I would say they are a true record of my visit, though by no means all of it. It was only after I got home and examined them that I was able to deduce the story of a year full of torrential rain – especially in the ones where huge amounts of soil have obviously been washed away, leaving tangled masses of exposed roots. It is also a true record of the place – for me, some of the images could not possibly be anywhere else but North Devon woodland.
I intended to go back today, but it was too bloomin’ cold.
Here is the piece I made earlier…