Through the Trees

Last  month I walked from Bucks Mill to Peppercombe, picking my way slowly along the steep muddy track through the woods above the cliffs. A recently fractured hand in a splint made me more than usually conscious of not losing my balance or doing any more damage.

Looking at my photos a couple of days ago,  I was surprised to see that they were nearly all of trees and foliage –  which was strange because as far as I remembered, my focus had been fixed unswervingly on the ground underfoot.

Then I remembered I had paused a couple of times to make a sort of rapid inventory:

Bucks Mill (7) _600w

Eyes focus mud wetness

Judge undulations

Unpredictable sideways slope of path

Boot prints, lots of skid marks

It is slippery

Fallen leaves

Peripheral vision

precipitous drop

Extent of woodland

Overhanging branches, brambles

Awareness of ocean beyond the shelter of the trees

Expanse of surrounding countryside

Unusual movement, falling…

Bucks Mill (15) 600w

Ears – alert for cracking noises

Insects

Humans approaching

Body

Joints, bones, muscles, injuries, breathing, balancing

Feet

Feel texture of ground, rough or slippery

The angle of slope

Subtle undulations

Holes, roots, dips, stones, bumps and hollows

Sensation of the tiniest movement of muscles and foot bones

Bucks Mill (12) _600w

Slow

Every move made with caution

skin

arms moving, socks wet, clothes rubbing against my body

smell

mud water leaves

I sit, relax and eat my lunch under an oak tree, surrounded by ferns and greenery. My Morrison’s sandwich and aging flask of tea taste surprisingly delicious.  Every so often the sun shines through the stillness. There is no wind. An elderly walker passes by wearing what I shall always think of as Bryson shorts. (In “Notes From a Small Island”, Bill Bryson wonders why the English, when out walking, always tuck their trousers into their socks – and when they get really serious about it, like climbing up mountains in howling gales, they take to wearing shorts).

Mud and acorns

The day grows warmer as it moved into afternoon

Gentle sound of ocean

No bird sound

The path is steep and stony in parts

Tangled roots underfoot

Tiny hoverflies

Occasional rusting in the canopy

Bucks Mill (4) 600w

And as I descend into Peppercombe the rhythm of the ocean, and the cries of gulls through the trees gradually grow louder.

I realise I have not been paying attention to anything that is unrelated to my negotiation along this path through the trees –  yet I am aware of infinitely more.

Some steep steps down, pools of water, and the smell of manure mingles with my body heat as I climb down on to a tarmac road and lean heavily against a soft moss-covered tree trunk .

Bucks Mill (2) _600w

About throughstones

I am primarily a visual artist, living on the North Devon coast, a beautiful semi-rural area in South West England. I am interested in full engagement with 'place' and the eternal movement of life - particularly as it relates to what we call 'the natural environment'.
This entry was posted in Devon, nature, North Devon, trees and woodland and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Through the Trees

  1. tarapappas says:

    Beautifully articulated walk! I love the idea of making a personal inventory!

    Like

  2. clegyrboia says:

    the art of walking

    Like

  3. Carol Maurer says:

    beautiful…as I was reading I found myself engaged in my own personal inventory! Thanks.

    Like

    • Thank you Carol. These walks and solitary landscape activities etch themselves deeply into my memory. It’s where I really learn what life is. Wouldn’t suit everybody of course!

      Like

Comments are closed.