Safe in the quiet woods, I drew breath. I spent the entire morning and most of the afternoon pottering about and walking – getting lost, wading through mud and enormous puddles up to the top of my wellies, slithering down narrow muddy tracks down to the river, listening intently for the sounds of birds, water, distant traffic and humans – all the time breathing in fresh clean air and absorbing the strength and presence of the trees. There was a group of tall upright conifers amongst this mixed woodland: not normally my favourite sort of tree, but these were majestic, graceful and vigorous. I gathered fallen leaves and arranged them in a circle around a particularly handsome-looking specimen.
It was a glorious sunny day. All stress drained away, and I felt happy and completely at home. I began to indulge in little fantasies, and as I wandered around, I began to have interesting little conversations with trees, plants, stumps and stones. I thought I would return the next day and sing songs, recite poetry, make a recording… but I didn’t, because there has been torrential rain here, ever since. That’s my excuse, anyway!
I am leading a sort of double life at the moment: between home in North Devon, where I like to think I am getting life, family and work into some sort of coherent balance (no chance!) – and my Arts & Ecology course at Dartington in South Devon, which runs on three-week intensive modules.
Both of the two regions of Devon are lovely places to live, with very different landscapes. Next time I will try to post some pictures for comparison – but I can’t seem to put my hands on any at the moment! Now that I have made myself at home here again, I am ready to start Module 2. Here is what I made when I arrived at Dartington for the first module, a couple of months ago… I called it ‘Tree Rings at Dartington – a Grounding Exercise’.
Interestingly, Module 1 was very much focused on ‘place’… and I have learned that the prefix ‘eco’ (as in ‘eco-nomy’ and ‘eco-logy’) comes from the Greek word for ‘home’. How did I get through life without knowing this before?