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Archive for March, 2010

Equinox

Spring fever is upon us fully now, and we are enjoying the weather as if it were summer: the door is flung open, letting light pour into the truck while the burner still keeps us warm, and we are beginning to move our activities outside.

We marked the Equinox on Sunday, the day of looking forward and back, to the winter passed and the summer coming. Day and night have equal length; its a balance point as we emerge from ourselves and our inner lives to bring things out into the world.

Friends came from London to celebrate the spring, have a taste of country air and to fill the truck with love and good company. We ate, talked and made spring spinners and flags which the children flung, waved, and ran about carrying with great glee.  A grey start flourished into a glorious bright afternoon and we enjoyed company into the early evening, including a spontaneous visit which re-united old friends from 15 years ago, to everyone’s surprise and delight.

Its a quiet, graceful delight to sense the change in the air as the seasons move on.  The sudden change in the light in February was startling, and came so soon: when I was ready still for another 6 weeks of winter, I knew that the world was waking up, and that the inward time would soon be done.

Even at its darkest time, when we were covered in snow and I stood in the rain making phonecalls with my back to the north wind, the winter didn’t seem as bleak this year. Out of doors every day, rather than looking out through a pane of glass from a stuffy room, you sense the life and the gloriousness of it all. It makes sense in a way that it can’t when you only use your eyes to understand. Up in London passing words with strangers on a grey day – “not long yet” and “it’ll soon be over!” – came from another world and reminded me of what I’ve left behind.

Everything is incandescent now, with the light and with the special kind of newly growing green. We arrived home from India at this time last year and there was not a twinge of sadness as we were suddenly drenched in Spring after tropical dryness.  England is beautiful, and I love this time of year!

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Just a quick one to keep things updated: our week with Forager went well and we’ve decided to stay put for a few months. The chance to really get to know the plants is unmissable, and the money will be nice.  I’m looking forward to a nice routine, and to being part of something again.  We have a very understanding landowner who, we think, will be happy to have us for a while, and the village is uber convenient, with Canterbury just 5 minutes away by train!

Its a shame Middle Ruckham will have to wait, but the summer is long and we hope to get down there later in the year, and also to schedule in some visits to the woodland projects I mentioned in my last post, possibly leaving the truck here while we do.

It is interesting how things emerge: we didn’t really know what we’d do when it was time to leave our base in East Sussex, and were very thrown when it didn’t work out at Easter Wood, and yet, out of nowhere, something sweet is emerging.  I like the flow of this river.

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Thanks to a nice piece of fixing from my lovely brother, we’ve spent the last couple of weeks at the bottom of a field in a little village near Canterbury, right next to the farm buildings where Miles runs his wild food business. Perfect.

Since leaving Easter Wood we have begun searching for other woodland management projects on HelpX and WWoof. Tinker’s Bubble, Landmatters and Steward Community Wood, all in the South West, are making a go of it living communally and legally on the land. I feel a strong pull in this direction, and want to experience for myself what this kind of lifestyle involves.

Mostly, I am desperate to be in a more natural environment for a while. Something in me let go a little bit when we arrived up at Easter Wood, and there was a thrill at having somehow put a piece back in its place. Beautiful and idyllic as Chartham is, civilisation of any kind is beginning to grate.  Too many years in London and the overpopulated South East has left my senses clamouring for a different kind of rhythm.

Unfortunately it seems pretty clear that low-impact woodland settlement and large live-in horseboxes are not terribly compatible: access routes and planning agreements are not conducive and I can understand why. To visit, we will need to abandon our home and dwell on the earth, living in benders, yurts and cabins, sharing meals and living side by side with other volunteers and permanent inhabitants.  This will be a beautiful thing to do; it also means being transient again and leaving the comfort and familiarity of our new home for a while, something we have done plenty of in the last 18 months.

One solution would be to swap the truck for a yurt and van, or at least a bow top wagon. They are cosy and neat and beautiful and reasonably portable, and are ideal for woodland living. We considered a yurt last year. We also considered full blown Wwoofing, ie staying in the accomodation provided. However, we had done enough travelling in India, and again on our arrival in the UK and were desperate for a bit of Home.

Feeling the need to arrive and depart with a minimum of fuss with Rowan in tow, we eventually settled for the horsebox. It allows us to experience different environments whilst reducing the degree of change associated with each move. Of course, something considerably smaller would also do the trick, and would present less of a challenge to park, only now we are in the unfortunate position of becoming attached to our lovely home!

We have put woodland projects on hold for now, until we can find somewhere to leave the truck while we go and visit. We will be heading to Middle Ruckham Farm in Devon, to help them build fences, look after their gardens and to spend more time mulling and incubating, and learning new skills. As we develop our own rhythm of moving and staying still,  and become clear about our long term plans a yurt may become a more viable option. For now, while so many things are uncertain, it is good to keep our lovely cabin on wheels.

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