April 20

Birch Life

2  comments

Nature has the ability to claim back her space on a whim, or so it sometimes seems.

This week I walked in an ancient landscape that has got to know my footsteps. With a fellow photographer I trod the well worn runnels in the rocks of Robin Hood’s Stride, attempting to portray the ancient weave of rock, tree and grass. I was struck by the radically different timescales that held each of these three life forms in it’s flow.

As I meandered around at human speed I observed the nervous grasses flickering in the wind and envisioned the growth of oak trunk over the past few centuries, roots curling their way though the bones below, lithe tendrils playing to their own time.

Deeper still, I imagined  the scene if it could be replayed with every ten thousand years flashing by in a second. How the rocks would be seen to heave and pour their presence onto the landscape. Little did I know that just a few short human minutes away oak time had passed.

Hermits Cave hunkers below a granite massif and boundaried by two yews of a rare vintage. On the zenith of the rocks, some fifty feet above squats an equally old oak, roots tied deep into the rock strata, clinging on for eternity. Or not, as I found out today.

The oak had crashed. Roots sheared clean away the behemoth tree had groaned it’s last in some late summer storm and spiraled earthwards, taking most of the yews with it into oblivion. I couldn’t bring myself to take a photo, I didn’t want to reveal the bareness, the raw edges and the decimation of this once sacred site.

Pondering on the death of this place I crossed the rocky layers above and watched as a young birch danced and gyrated her way to spring life, surrounded by whales of grey rock. Life comes and life goes. This little supple lady is now gently teasing her roots through impossible cracks, seeking moisture and succour under the skin of millenia.

Birch time meets rock time.


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  • The lady of the woods is my favourite tree. It is beautiful sitting in the watery crevice of ancient rocks, bring new life into the place.
    The mighty oak strong- but fallen.
    Something to make you think, a lot more than just ‘ a nice picture’.

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