January 11, 2015

trees in winter

I have spent much of today out doors in the cold, windy sunshine of January. It suits me to spend lots of time outdoors, and one hope for this year is to spend as much time in the fresh air as possible and practical. My hubby and I are planning some big hikes and I'm enjoying transforming plenty of my normal forty-five minute dogwalks into two hour fast walks, working hard to keep up with my indefatigable, wiry husband whose long legs and aerobic fitness means that I almost have to jog to keep up! If I stop to take photos along the way, I have to then run flat out to catch up - which is all part of the plan to get fitter and to really get to know a wider range of our local landscape. I am hungry for more outdoor foraging. adventures, discoveries and inspiration. It feeds the soul, the mind and the body, and at the risk of sounding geeky I want to understand the history and botany of the landscape where I live because these natural habitats are so full of complex life, mystery and narratives and suddenly I want to understand it all a bit better. I suppose it is partly wanting to understand the landscape my life is rooted in, but it's also just intellectual curiosity I guess, and I have a feeling what I learn will teach me about life in many other ways. I am even, shudder, getting some technical gear - those scary, gortex-y trousers and jackets while it is so cold, there will be just no excuse not to get going over river and field even in midwinter!

Today, it was all about the winter trees, magnificent in their starkness. There is something about the unsparing, colour-leached silhouettes that seem so reassuringly resilient and unchanging.

Unspeaking witnesses to so much history, activity and storms, yet remaining. There is something about knowing and appreciating that we are seeing exactly the things that many previous generations have that makes us feel closer to our landscapes and local histories I think, gives us a sense of being rooted in something deeper than yesterday, today and tomorrow. It certainly gives me a feeling of my geographical home, even though our families are not from this area. Since so many of us are scattered far from where past generations of our families live, getting to know the physical landscape as well as the local people, our neighbours and friends, gives another layer of rootedness and belonging I think?

We want to get some books to help us know more about different types of trees, their indentification, botany, legends etc because we were shocked at how hard we found it to indentify many without their leaves. Could you? Getting geeky, I warned you!

The trees' shadows were stunning too.

Over the last year, some of us who live around here, have worked together to save a beautiful and very ancient drovers' way from being officially opened to vehicles which would have made it a shortcut for any 4x4s and off road bikes. It has been a long and expensive battle to protect this part of the Icknield Way, but it was saved as the historical and priceless, life-filled ancient way that it is. Today we walked the entire local section of it, the piece we were involved with saving, and it was really quite an emotional moment to see the recently erected signposts showing its new protected status and enjoying the peace and beauty as we walked it towards home.

So, here is to really simple things like walking, trees and feeling like you belong somewhere. Easy to take simple things for granted but there is a lot of happy in them!

This walk was long enough to see the light completely alter and transform the views from soft and hazy to sharp and bright. There is a lot of fun trying to capture the shifting moods in photographs. Another thing I would love to learn more about this year! Do you have any new learning things on the horizon, I would love to hear? xx


  1. What an inspiring read. I too am married to a walker, but after messing up my Achilles' tendons by endeavouring to keep up with his walking group on brisk 15 mile walks, I now just help with devising the routes and joining him on 6-7mile routes.
    We're pretty good at tree ID, it's all about studying the buds on the twigs and the fallen leaves on the ground. The ReadersDigest book of trees - a lovely chunky landscape format book you often find in charity shops, is a great reference book. My husband is fascinated by the sound of the wind through different trees, we even found out about a blind person who IDs trees by how they sound.
    Enjoy your walks x

    1. Hi Celia, thank you so much. My hubby did an 18 mile walk today - not with me, I was cosied up at the Turner Exhibition at Tate Britain! He is reeeaaaally getting into it, but at the moment 3 hours is about my limit, things start aching after that, but I'm hoping to get fitter and stronger! How amazing about the IDing trees by the wind sounds, wow! x

  2. I always love the lacy look that trees against the sky create when standing naked out there. A uniqueness of beauty.

  3. Me too, such a stark, pared back kind of beauty.

  4. Really interesting to read about the old drovers' road and I'm pleased to hear it's been saved. I think the outlines of trees and their lovely long shadows at this time of year are some of the best things about winter. It's lovely to find other people who enjoy them too!