23rd. December 2016.
Pre-Christmas review of my ramblings through The Wood – through The Year…
I love being with trees – and glimpsing the lives of the creatures that inhabit our beautiful woodlands. I love unearthing things too…
My bountiful year started in April when I set myself a quest – and found an extraordinary red deer antler cast from an ancient animal.
Come May – I’d ‘stumbled’ upon new life – curled-up just a twig’s throw-away from where I’d found my ‘out-stretched hand’.
I call this magical place – ‘Shedland’.
Then there have been innumerable visits to ‘Ravens’ Haven’ on Dartmoor – where I found my biggest ‘writing quill’ yet!
A couple of weeks ago – I found myself again – in Avalon Orchard under Glastonbury Tor – picking windfalls from the sparkling wet grass. Huge red and gold orbs that filled my palms.
I have also entered a new wood – and witnessed that elemental beings really do show themselves to those that believe…
Then in early December – I visited my old haunt again – ‘Ravens’ Haven’ on Dartmoor. On entering – through the Hawthorn Grove – I discovered a beautiful fluffy young sheep – quietly lying on the dewy bank beneath a tree. He was completely alone.
At first sighting – I was worried he had been injured or was unwell – because apart from opening his eyes – he strangely didn’t move. I could have stroked him – he was that gentle and unafraid.
I kept a vigil for a little while near his side – as his breath condensed in the cool evening air. In the quietness, I determined that if he was still there on my return – I’d investigate to see what ailed him.
Meanwhile – I enjoyed my ramble through the cathedral of tall trees. As ever – high-up in the roofless ceiling – the clever ravens were keeping a watchful eye on me. When I returned – to the spot where the lamb had lain down on Dartmoor – I found he was no longer there – and oddly no where to be found in the immediate vicinity. He’d invisibly moved on to pastures new; the Lamb had risen.
As I was leaving the area to go back to my car – I stood at the bole of an old friend; ‘The Great Holly’ who stands at the entrance to the wood…
– and there saw I in the darkness – boughs laden with blood-red berries.
There was something especially confirming about this Dartmoor experience.
On a merry note…
My good friend the Squire – came-a- calling at the shop. With a “Ho Ho Ho!” he made his presence loudly – and warmly felt – with mince-pies and a tipple of port for the gang on duty! After a joyful interlude – he quickly popped-out to the town square…
On his return to the shop – I caught sight of him standing proudly in the doorway – sporting a huge Brussel Sprout tree with a profusion of larger leaves sprouting from its top! “Behold the Greenman liveth!” – I mused to myself.
Then I just happened to say – “Ooh! I do love a man bearing a big Brussel Sprout tree!” and with no more ado he gave it to me – all thirty-three curved, knobbly inches of it! Not content with giving me just one either – he went back down to the town square to buy himself a replacement – and doubled his gift to me.
If there is nothing else for Christmas Day Dinner – my two sons can be guaranteed a generous helping of their ‘favourite’ vegetable – all served up with lashings of gravy and bread sauce – only! In all seriousness – this may come to pass like the inevitable wind.
Mother has been fiscally irresponsible again – and bought another piece of beloved religious art! A ‘priceless’ watercolour and pencil study – after William Holman Hunt’s visionary painting – ‘The Light of the World’ of which there are three versions. I miraculously found a fourth on Ebay – with a price tag for less than the price of a free-range Christmas Turkey – and evermore sustaining! (Besides – I don’t eat turkey anyway!)
I love how somebody has taken the time to copy the original so meticulously – they must have loved ‘The Light of the World’ even more than I – or Peter do – if that is possible!
For me – Holman Hunt’s mastery of light and imagery – mirrors my own experiences of being inside an English Woodland throughout this wondrous year. Of being there in that quiet moment when light breaks through the trees – as a door opening on a new dawn…
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Dedicated to three other luminaries in my life…
Everyone enjoy Christ’s Day!
(If after eating too much – you feel you need to get out for a ramble – there is nowhere more reviving than being inside a beautiful green cathedral.)