Tuesday, February 07, 2012

...a winter walk and imbolc...

...The owl tree...

In my last post...beauty and bread...I wrote about the fast roads on the way to Calcot. What I didn't write about was the magic we had when we got there. Thanks to my friend Kristal over at Little Drops of Awen, H and I were given an insight into the very ancient tradition of Imbolc.
Imbolc is a celebration of winter's weakening hold over the warmer, lighter days of Spring. It's pronounced "Im-molc" or "Oi-melc", meaning ewe's milk and has significance in the farming year as the mark of returning fertility. With this in mind, we set out on a quest to find some spring lambs.

On our way we discovered a beautiful hollow oak we called "The Owl Tree". The kids sat inside the trunk and drank hot chocolate until the feeling came back to their frozen toes.
Onward into the woods to find snowdrops, feathers, pine cones and ladybirds. H, G and E climbed everything they could find.
We emerged from the wood to find our treasure..a field full of new lambs, bouncing and bleating, totally curious about who we might be. This is spring!
H, G and E climbed to the top of the fence and watched the lambs, mesmerised. One or two of the bolder lambs came close, demanding, with shrill bleats, to know who we were. There's some great pictures on Kristal's blog of the lambs playing. We could have watched them all day.

Nature is just so subtle sometimes. Shifting daylight, warming soil, lambs and the return of birdsong. Winter seems to happen so quickly, but the return of spring seems much slower.
The Imbolc adventure was marked with Kristal lighting candles to represent the returning light. "..and when these lights go out," she said, "may another be lit in your hearts".

... imbolc candles...

...watching lambs...

...the ladybirds still think it's winter...

Thursday, February 02, 2012

...beauty and bread...

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
John Muir

When H and I went on a walk this morning, we felt small and vulnerable alongside the speeding traffic. Trucks thundered past, bottles and food wrappers piled up along the hedgerow, H and I buffeted by cold wind and exhaust fumes.
We were eventually going to reach a quiet, wild place in which H could meet his friends and run around, a place inbetween roads, called Calcot. We'd not been there before, but my friend had, and urged us to come along too, despite the traffic. When we got there it was amazing, but why did we have to experience the horrible bit to get there?

The roads around Calcot, to me this morning, were not just physical barriers to the quiet green space, but cultural walls so strong, so fast, so completely sure of their right to be there above anything else, that to cross or challenge them was recklessly stupid.
In order for me to have my nature "fix", I had to cross. (Safely, too, I hasten to add!)

These big old roads get wider and faster, each one with an "over-riding economic benefit" to the wild places they cut through.
I'm sure these roads are all Very Very Important.
As a result though, quiet places like Calcot become forgotten, almost forbidden. The building of a new road, as Important as it is, sends out a signal to society that we don't need local nature anymore, it's a luxurious resource to be disconnected from in favour of economic growth.

I don't know about you,  but I think it's time we reversed this trend and nurtured developers that love local nature and celebrate it in their designs.
Why should we continue to build roads the old way?
Why should any business be rewarded with profit and praise for creating things lined with urine-filled bottles and half eaten burgers?
Come on, where are you, the real transport and industrial innovators?
I dare you to build a road that welcomes families (and wildlife) to cross over and reach climbing trees, woodlands and wild playful places.