When we were on holiday in the summer, I walked to the bakery every morning and a few times my eldest daughter joined me.
Walking seems to be a good way to connect. There is something about the rhythmic pounding and arm swinging. You fall into step and emotionally attune to one another. There is nothing forced about it; it just happens.
We put the worlds to rights. We mused and speculated. We covered diverse topics. We agreed that we had enjoyed this time together, and would try to make time to walk at home too.
Then life happened. The school term started, and you know the rest. But this morning we remembered.
This single rose waved us goodbye at the end of our garden. Appropriately, it is called ‘Morning Mist’. It is a David Austin English rose, but is unusual, in that it is a single flower, closer to a species (wild rose). It has a light musk fragrance. It is perfect for the wild end of the garden where it has been completely neglected, but just grows away and flowers because it wants to.
And here is some actual morning mist, peeked through an oak tree, as we were walking over the railway bridge on our lane.
This is what the hedgerows look like at this time of year (you can compare this with how it looked in summer, in Returning the Egg Boxes). Now it is on the wane. Resources are being pulled in to ensure survival through the winter.
The leaf-fall has started, but is only light. There are not enough to wade through or kick around. That pleasure is to come.
All around are the dry husks of seedheads. They have entrusted the next generation to take flight. They are left to stand and enjoy the view. (The grass was quite wet here, hence the high-stepping in the background!)
Our route took us past an old apple orchard. In previous years the apples have rotted on the ground, but they seem to have been harvested this year.
These oast houses are typical of our part of the world. They were once used for drying hops for beer-making. The white caps are called ‘cowls’. They are angled to increase air flow and to keep the weather out.
It is at this point in our walk that I really hit my stride.
And that is due to this landscape.
I lived overseas for three years. During this time my children were very small and one of our favourite story books was Farmer Duck. On the two inside covers are two beautiful illustrations of a field; one in summer and the other in winter. The same field, but at different times of the year, looking completely different. The winter field is ploughed and rich brown, and seagulls fly overhead. The summer field is green and alive with poppies and wildflowers. Those two illustrations used to break my heart. I longed to be within them, and to share them with my children.
Now I can, and it is a pleasure I never take for granted.
The mists had cleared to reveal a bright blue sky. I love the red berries at the top of the hedgerows against the blue of the sky.
My favourite tree is the oak. Oak trees support more species (insects, birds, small mammals, other plants and fungi) than any other native tree. The oaks are just starting to turn. Their green is fading, and over the next month they will take on mottled hues of orange, ochre and brown. You can watch a short video showing a year in the life of an English Oak here.
Dogwoods and field maples are already showing their autumn colours. I love the slight translucence of their leaves caught in the sunlight. Age adds subtlety and depth.
The next crop has already been sown in this field. To the right is a wide stretch which is left wild. This allows us to walk the field without disturbing the crop, whilst the diversity of the hedgerows is protected.
This old oak is going a bit thin on top. Oaks live for about 120 years. A mature oak creates 230 kg of new wood in one year. It will also release 234,000 litres of oxygen into the atmosphere (see more about this here). Towards the end of its life, it will start to shrink back, losing verdancy from the tips of some of its branches. But it still stands for now, looking over this path.
I love this unobtrusive way through the hedgerow. This is the way humans should move around in nature, remembering our relative size and need.
We were considerably shorter than these seedheads. They have completely dessicated, but will provide cover for birds, insects and small mammals in the winter. I hope to be back to see them covered in frost in a few weeks.
We returned home feeling refreshed, and having plugged in and reconnected. There is nothing like a walk to put things into their proper perspective.
What sort of landscape makes you feel rooted or connected? Do you like to walk alone or with company? What changes do you notice through the year?
During winter, I seem to walk more. There are fewer distractions from the garden, and so in order to get my nature fix I have to walk. I will try to share my winter pops of wonder on this blog. If you would like to indulge too, then click on the ‘Follow’ button at the bottom of this page. You will receive an email each time I post.