The Great Greening


From my bedroom window I could see the steel-grey pillar rising. A great smoky behemoth spreading its dark shadow over the Beltane moors. The fire which fathered it crawled over the dry grasses, snaked up the creeks of heather and licked the edges of the conifer forest.

Finding a taste for the sharp tang of pine he melded through the feeble fencing and purged the land of the plantation. One day in May and the moors were changed for years to come.

Days after, smothered in smoke and consumed by an unexpected sense of loss I picked my way through the ruins. Although not greatly enamoured by the monoculture pinewoods I had watched these trees grow from knee high saplings into the towers they had become. Now they pointed to the sky like blackened fingers. Flesh coloured timber bled sap onto the charred trunks, transformed by my challenged mind into bodies of friends.

Not a blade of grass remained at their feet. Total destruction.

Two years later I returned and saw the beginnings of a greening. Quite raw at first as mould and fungi moved in, strange forms that fruited amongst the tombs. However it was a return of life nonetheless. A heartening transition to something other than forest, and other than burned corpse-land.

Three more years on and I walked the forest again. This morning in fact. Stepping over the ridges and furrows that laced between the decaying limbs I was surrounded by the greening. Moss. More moss. Much more moss than I’ve ever seen in one place. Numerous varieties cushioned the spaces between and held the blackened legs and arms of the burnt pines. Verdantly fertile swathes of sumptuous emerald blankets stretched their nurturing weaves over the hurt ground, inviting in stands of tender grasses.

Deep in the enclosed space I found a species of rush that I’m not familiar with. Perhaps a ‘new to me’ variety that had something to show me. Here, in this place that was wrecked now stood flowers. And there, nosing through these first blooms of the future was the bumble bee. A celebration of nature’s overwhelming life was going on right under my nose as the bee sought nectar to nurture her next brood.

As I sat and bathed in the buzz of April I realised the riches around me as biodiversity took a hold where man had left nothing but a charcoal graveyard. Nature finds a way and we have so much to learn.

About the author

Jason follows his lifelong vocation as a countryside photographer who tries to catch the spirit of the places he visits. After decades working as a professional editorial photographer he now focuses much of his time on conceptual fine art photography, visual storytelling and in aiding others to follow their creative calling.

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