On we go to water and wood
13 October 2020
On we go.
I wish to escape the strangeness, the tension on humans in a world in the wake of a wildfire of disease.
The whoosh of my electric car into the Trough of Bowland at Lancaster sees a wish born, on one day, and then two.
The first day sees a drama of clouds bursts across the sky.
Rain and sun, rain and sun, rain and sun. There’s a rainbow somewhere?
The second day brings brightness, lightness, crispness. Ahhh, the freshness of Autumn.
There’s a deep spaciousness here. Delight opens as a rose inside my chest.
I see hills unfolding, a panorama of moors.
This natural nothingness not blank, utterly breathtaking.
I drive awhile until STOP.
A layby invites me to park alongside a car. No people to be seen.
Car – off. Boot - open, grab camera and bag, dog lead, close boot – check. Bring dog and close car door – ok.
Off we go.
Ahead a path leads me and dog besides meadows. A maze of drystone walls slides at right angles nearby.
A clunky awkward gate cronkk. Dog flinches.
Oh yes, I’ve done it! Dog speedily pitter pats through.
I walk along the path and cross above a small brook. Farmland reaches to the right and up into the distance.
Here stands the guardian of the wood.
Hello majestic Oak.
The tree stands tall and strong.
Can I pass?
A few moments. Slow down. Be still, breathe. listen.
I can’t get as close to the tree as preferred. I can’t touch its bark, connect. Hmph, frustration.
Hang on, just be still, breathe. Listen.
Some time... An answer: ‘Yes’.
On we go.
A sign offers a map to a language unwanting of translation.
What a magical place.
Dog pads along silently nearby, a sniff here, a sniff there, other dog-like things to do.
My eyes close. Mmmmm, the sound of water from a large, fast stream.
We walk as dog paws meet earth - pad pad pad - before we reach the echo of human footprints.
A manmade wooden walkway bleeds across the sloping land beneath.
I bawk at my pleasure seeing this convenience for an awkward clump of a body.
Ah look, here’s the sun. Hello sun.
Well hello there.
A tree being emerges to bridge the gap to water.
Sawn-off trunk of a face displays iron-filed blemishes, owl-like and wise. An expression that’s playful yet gentle, a little intimidating. 'I see you'.
We hold still. I see you too.
I see your long bark body with its spiral of waves at the middle, the dusting of moss atop wood-etched woody skin.
I see the chaos of small branches and twigs at your tail, how this meets sodden ground, earth and being as one.
Dog sits at my feet, little sigh of impatience, a knowing patience.
On we go.
We walk on, touch the surface of nature with eyes and ears, nose and paws.
I sense the aliveness of the wood.
I see dead wood, feel the growing silence of Winter.
Life thrives with a flourish of leaves emerges from a fallen trunk. Spaghnum moss drips at the ends.
I shake my head at coins pushed into bark, why?
There is so much more, beyond words.
Whilst the water rushes to a crescendo ahead.
‘To the reservoir’, it cries gallantly, earthy detritus surfs the waves.
I reach a short stone wall. At its feet the track is a chameleon slowly changing skin to Autumn colours.
Is that wall’s coping stone looking at me?
I reach the reservoir peeking through a natural boundary of trees.
Looking through there are mirrors here revealing shadows, artful edges blending worlds.
Soon we stop. I-spy a bench shining offering a blessing from the sun.
Dog sees this and off he goes, jumps, sits, ‘that’s for me’.
And yes, I sit, awhile.
Notes on this post
I wrote the original version of this in September after visiting this area. Recent edits were made as the poetic prose was flowing (and as I’ve had the time to finish the post!)
The images are a combination of photographs from the two visits during the same week to the Forest of Bowland. I felt this better captured the story and multi-sensory experiences, though to note the changing light conditions called for a little editing in Lightroom.