Crowning The Year with Light.

23rd. December 2016.

Pre-Christmas review of my ramblings through The Wood – through The Year…  

"O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Your branches green delight us!"

“O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, Your branches green delight us!” Baubles and raindrops helping to illuminate the way to my door.

2016 has been a fruitful year for me – in terms of my experiences under the greenwood trees. in-shedland-something-about-dartmoor

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. 

Shed Red Deer Antler.

Moment of recognition before unearthing my ‘eight-pointer’ Red Deer Antler.

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’.

Living breathing Bambi. Newly born Roe Deer in 'Shedland'.

Living breathing Bambi. Newly born Roe Deer in ‘Shedland’.

I call this magical place – ‘Shedland’.  

Doorway to 'Shedland'.

Doorway to ‘Shedland’.

A Raven's cathedral - Dartmoor

A Raven’s cathedral – Dartmoor

Then there have been innumerable visits to ‘Ravens’ Haven’ on Dartmoor – where I found my biggest ‘writing quill’ yet!

My gift from the clever Ravens of Dartmoor.

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.

Avalon Orchard - Glastonbury Tor.

Timeless Avalon Orchard – Glastonbury Tor.

I have also entered a new wood – and witnessed that elemental beings really do show themselves to those that believe…

The trees speak bliss to me.

The trees speak bliss to me. Emily’s silhouette in a tracery of trees at the edge.

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.

The Lamb lies down on Dartmoor.

The Lamb lies down on Dartmoor.

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.

Close enough - I didn't want to disturb him unnecessarily.

Close enough – I didn’t want to disturb him unnecessarily.

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…


A much visited friend throughout 2016.

– and there saw I in the darkness – boughs laden with blood-red berries.

The Holly Bears the Crown...

The Holly Bears the Crown.

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. 

What a lucky ‘girl’ I am.  Enormous pair of sprout trees from my good friend the ‘Squire’!

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!

Behold I stand at the door and knock.

Behold I stand at the door and knock.  This version is testament to the artist’s faith – and love – whoever they are – or ‘were’.

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…

'Shedland' 2016.

Woods are where I find The Light is closest of all.  Being flooded in Shedland – 2016.

'The Light of the World by William Holman Hunt

The fourth ‘Light of the World’.  Tinsel and lights reflected in the cellophane that still wraps him.  The picture auspiciously arrived on the 21st of December – at Winter Solstice.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Dedicated to three other luminaries in my life…

My Sons bringing the woodland home – Christmas past.

Behold a gentle man in the flesh. My beloved Uncle Peter – and fellow worshiper of ‘The Light of the World’. We share a love of art – and poetry – and lovely old things.  I see the light in his eyes always. X

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.)

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