Perceiving beauty.

Under the trees.

“Nowadays people don’t get enlightenment because they don’t sit under a tree.”  Satish Kumar – Earth Pilgrim.


Primavera.  Four morph into three – as Spring is nearly sprung!

On the 15th of February – I awoke with a yearning; not for breakfast – but a need to feed my soul, through the medium of an outmoded video tape! Through my window – Spring was tangible; time to give the ‘olde’ video an airing and watch…Satish Kumar’s spiritual and lyrical journey across Dartmoor.

Before he discovered Dartmoor, his recount of his early years in India – and his extraordinary 8,000 mile world-wide pilgrimage for peace between 1962 and 1964, has been an inspiration and a visual treat ever since I saw ‘Earth Pilgrim’ originally broadcast on BBC 2 as part of the Natural World series. Although I purchased the dvd as soon as it became available – I prefer to watch my video that I recorded straight from the telly, simply because the original broadcast featured a piece of instrumental music called ‘Iguazu’ by Gustavo Santaolalla.  I think of ‘Iguazu’ as the signature tune of Earth Pilgrim and disappointingly it’s not on the dvd version. . .

Born in 1963, I was rapt from the opening bars – transfixed as the hovering kestrel, by this wise, gentle man of Dartmoor – and Earth.  And so it is – that if ever I feel the need to escape to Dartmoor without an actual physical journey  – I reach for ‘my’ recording – with a cup of tea at the ready – and I’m away for an hour, and sometimes two if I rewind!

Earth Pilgrim

Earth Pilgrim.

Another spellbinding ‘Earth Pilgrim’ moment, was the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into an Emperor Moth – likewise I emerged from my cosy TV den with an irrepressible urge to stretch out and go to Dartmoor that very afternoon.  To be energised by the elements of water, earth and air – and fire from the returning Sun.  Dartmoor was calling…

In light of ‘Earth Pilgrim’ – and discussing with Tom – we decided to visit “A temple to the Earth” – my favourite wood near Burrator Reservoir.  En route, Dartmoor was alive with people – cars parked in lay-bys and on verges – as other people enjoyed the clean air and open space.  We arrived at our chosen destination mid-afternoon.  All was quiet apart from the resident ravens who were busy attending their swaying tree-top nest; native ravens start breeding in February.

Raven's tree-top nest.

Right – Swaying tree-top nest.

As we wandered through the wood – and wondered at the trees – I took some anniversary photographs of Tom – whose last day it was of being fourteen.  Although born on the 16th of February – I always think of him as my ‘Valentine’ baby because that’s when I felt the beginning of his journey to be on the Earth.  Nowadays – measuring six feet tall, Tom moves forward at a faster pace – and purposefully strode on ahead, wielding a stick through the air like boys seemingly do whatever their size or age!  Meanwhile, as I enjoyed remembering his happy arrival and baby days – I stumbled upon a stick that took my fancy. . .

Tom at an early age discovering the joy of being under a tree.

With stick in hand.  Tom at an early age discovering the joy of being under a tree.

A weathered white stick in the shape of a human thigh bone!  For someone that loves to walk, and who has a collection of other boney relics above her mantelpiece – it was a symbolic gift of nature; a windfall in its simplest form. . .


Collection of boney relics.  ( ‘Witch Bottle’ by Dartmoor artist Rima Staines. )

The woodland floor was strewn with fallen limbs from skeletal trees – and animal remains too – but none so stood out as the human-like femur that found me that afternoon.

Right - a tree bone. Left a sheep bone.


A couple of days ago – I re-visited Glastonbury.  I go there primarily to walk up the Tor and enjoy the abundant, evergreen Mistletoe – or Golden Bough. . .

Golden Bough at Glastonbury.

Golden Bough at Glastonbury.

I also enjoy a mosey around the quirky shops – although I never buy anything because it is my experience that magical things are more often found, like the simple and enduring pleasure of picking up a stick for keeps. . .


“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” W.B. Yeats

After a restorative couple hours spent under the trees – we journeyed back home – where I gave the tree bone a wax polish – and after some deliberation I decided that the last resting place for it, was over a painting of ‘Top Withens’ that I’d framed with a favourite – and suitably apt passage from ‘Wuthering Heights’. . .

“Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed. One may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house, and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun.”  Emily Bronte

('Top Withens' by Yorkshire artist Barry Hudson.)

(‘Top Withens’ by Yorkshire artist Barry Hudson.)

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While compiling this post – my two sons went to Exeter…

On their return – they informed me that ‘my’ beloved ‘Mistletoe Tree’ had been felled at the Morchard Bishop junction that joins the A377. stated that it was a tree trimming exercise only! Mistletoe in Devon is a rare sight; I, for one, shall miss it when I pass that way again and glance up.

The Mistletoe Tree at Morchard Bishop.

Sadly gone.  Photographed through the car window – ‘The Mistletoe Tree’ at Morchard Bishop, Devon.