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  • Writer's pictureCrone

Home again...

...home again, fol-de-rol.

Just being under the old oak tree in the field of my home in Devon frees my soul.

I took my brother and sister-in-law under the canopy as soon as I arrived. We looked at how the young trees are growing around this mother oak and wondered how old she is.

The visit wasn't enough for me, so the next morning I took my coffee, bread and hangover out to the field and sat there reading (Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver - I love it!). Tits and robins, a chaffinch, a wren, blackbirds and a distant buzzard. Occasional leaves falling through the canopy. The breeze.

This is heaven.

Could I live here? In some tent or yurt?

I think of Ben Short who left advertising to be a charcoal burner in westcountry woods. Coppicing, felling and laying hedges in the winter; making charcoal in the summer. He lived in the back of his van for months then made his own trailer. He says you realise how little you need. Though he adds that it can be cold, damp, dark and very miserable.

Sitting with the tree this time, I have the same sense as last time: that the wonder of life lies in the existence of things themselves. Trees, birds, sunlight. This is the majesty and the mystery. These things. These living interconnected things that make the world rich and glorious. Thinking about it does not explain by adding to or explain away the transcendence of their existence.

Elise talked of how the field is growing into scrub and woodland, which all the land in this nation seeks to do. She wondered if it needed any management, her view being that she thought and hoped it didn't. I think she's right. This is a small enough patch. Let it do its thing.

On the way down I was listening to Mark Avery's excellent Reflections. He worked in conservation for more than thirty years and in this book he draws upon his experience to lay out the state of affairs and how conservationists seek to alter them for the better. One stat he quoted had me shocked: in 1989 our broadleaf woodland was half high canopy and half coppiced. Now it's something like 96% high canopy.

We have one of the lowest percentages of woodland cover in Europe (if not the lowest) and precious little of it is really old. I can understand the unwillingness to cut any back for coppice. And yet all those species adapted to the coppice-effect created by large herbivores and then humans... squashed into the tiniest space or living on the limits of their ecological niche. I can't think of any coppice areas near our old home. And yet there is so much hazel. It is a survivor in hedges now.

This encourages me to feel that my former coppice project might well be the way I want to go this autumn and winter.

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23 вер. 2023 р.

Lovely canopy on the old oak. Glad you got home. Interesting issue about coppicing.

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