Thursday, 30 September 2010

The Gateway to Dark Places

This is one of many simple green steel gates that forms a barrier to traffic from the wood. Stepping around the gate is the generally beginning of a peaceful hour or so enjoying the sights and sounds of the wood.

Because people are often reluctant to leave their cars at night and walk into the wood, the gate seems to hold much of the activities of others at this point. Sadly the area is often used for illegal activities. However I have noticed over the years that I have been left alone by such folk, as long as what they are doing does not impact on the habitat or threaten me, I see no reason to harass them and by their lack of confrontation towards me they must think the same. The local constabulary have however put a notice and number on the gate for reporting anti-social behaviour (something I would certainly use if I observe fly tipping), so clearly someone has been given reason to take offence. I just hope it is not me that has given cause for concern.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Accepted Glow of Background Commercialism

Back in the recession of the 1990's I took a job as a night security guard to make ends meet. I spent many hours walking around storage yards and warehouses in the early hours. Tonight I passed by a modern distribution centre, compared to the sites I used to look after these buildings are vast.

Cloaked in hundreds of meters of grey cladding panels and adorned with halogen security lighting it makes its presence on the landscape casting its tainted unnatural light for many miles.

It seems our desire for must have consumer goods has given rise to these buildings and the vast army of vehicles that serve them. Driving by them, it is easy to disregard the size and scale of the operation, but walk around or near them and put your mind on their purpose and the whole scale of needs and wants is brought into perspective.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Builders of the Tall Fire

Over the course of the summer I noticed one of the areas I walk had suffered some fire damage. I value the trees and the wildlife that live there and decided to be vigilant. Sure enough one night I spotted the orange glow of a fire among the tall trunks of the conifers.

As I closed in on fire, I saw two teenagers tending to a fire and chatting to themselves. I waited and took in the details of what I saw. The ground had been cleared near the fire itself and both of the lads appeared sober and careful with what they were doing. It seemed that they were just out to enjoy the night and a chat (perhaps they were influenced by the bushcraft of someone like Ray Mears) . The fire itself was a bit too large for its purpose, but not of such a size that it would pose a risk to the habitat.

I considered stepping forward and making myself known, but the simple truth was that they were doing no real wrong so why should I disturb them. I am sure they would learn the lesson of too big a fire in the constant trips off into the darkness to fetch more fire wood. The thought of a creature such as I and a phalanx of dogs appearing out of the darkness to chat seemed wrong and may have disturbed what could be an enjoyable night within nature. In my mind I wished them a safe night and vanished back into the dark tracks.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Walking Beneath Clouds of Silver Leaves

Last night I came upon a wonderful moment on my walk. My mind was cluttered with work issues so it was a welcome relief to step into the moonlight, feel a brisk cool wind and let my concerns vanish into the night air.

The wind was quickly clearing the clouds from the night sky and the moon broke though illuminating the canopy of leaves above the path I was following, for a minute or so the leaves shimmered in the silver light and  breeze. Small shafts of moonlight briefly broke through the canopy and struck the dark path and the ferns to the side, but the leaves seemed to maintain their dancing silvery form until the clouds returned to shroud the moon.

An old friend told me a while ago, that as the years passed he found that those "magical" days that left him inspired grew fewer until they barely exist at all. Perhaps he should be looking for inspiration in the night.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Standing Lost in a Landscape of Tears

On quiet tracks well away from the well trodden footpaths, I sometime come upon abandoned buildings. A sorry sight with gables torn over in the winds and walls leaning under the spreading of the roof members.

I have to resist the temptation to take a closer look as some are frequented by wild barn owls and they would not appreciate being frightened out into the rain. In my mind I question why these buildings fell into neglect but as long as they can provide a little shelter for the wildlife at least I can take heart in them forming a use before they finally give in to the elements.

The title for the sketch may seem a little poetic. It is a line from a fine song by Ian Anderson called Set-Aside on his Secret Language of Birds Album. Its a short acoustic tune at only about 90 seconds and reflects on places such as these. It seems to pop into my mind whenever I happen on such a place.

Friday, 24 September 2010

The Sapling & the Autumn Storm

Some say that there are men of power, from my point of view only nature has pure power. If you are lucky you see it, if you are unfortunate you will not.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Light of Vanity

Nighttime urban walks are something I undertake occasionally but are something I am more wary of. Wherever there are people, there is the risk of hostility, so I find I am not always able to relax as I can in the rural areas and I tend to be more guarded.

Never the less a town can certainly hold a charm and can be an enjoyable place to spend a little time.
The darkened shop windows along with the muted advertising and images fade into the background. The open streets and squares   prove easier to move around when compared to the hustle and bustle of the day. The lack of people also enable a better view of the architecture and layout of the town too. In many ways I feel like the proverbial church mouse, scurrying out for a look around when its quiet.

During the day the barrage of people, advertising and signs for a "must have" seem to overload my senses. As people become more used to the barrage, the louder commercialism seems to want to shout. Strange how it looses its impact in the quiet of night and the wants of folk are reduced as the light of vanity is reduced to a 100 watt bulb hinting at the purpose of a darkened shop in the night.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Moonlit Pools

Some days things just go wrong. No matter what you try it just goes astray. Today has been one of those for me. I have had no time to get out and walk in the night tonight, so I have to sit for a while and bring to mind the finer things. A few distractions on TV, a glass of wine and a fond memory or two to summon from a distant past. Places that have made a lasting impression with the movement of water, energy and light. Sometimes enjoyed with good company, sometimes mine alone. Draw a smile from wherever possible, life is living moving energy, a lifetime is formed in memory and experience.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Connection to Above

Cloud cover obscured the full moon for much of tonights wanders. It brought the blessing of a warm night, so the jacket was left behind and it was a fine thing to feel fresh warm autumn night air against bare arms.
The wood I walked tonight is close to a town and I quickly noticed the difference in the quality in the light. The moon was on the on the side of the fields and countryside. Deep blues and dark grey cloud shadow hung over the silhouette of the trees. On occasion the moon would cast a ray of silver shifting light through the clouds and for brief moments would break clear of its cloudy shroud and flood the trees with a glorious silver light.
As I followed the skyline around the clouds took on a musty brown orange glow, they lacked any definition or movement. The trees stood out against this unnatural hue but without any of the clarity of those beneath the moonlight. This side of the wood is closest to the town, the light is of course the lights of the town reflected off the low cloud. I have little doubt that those who live within the urban areas are used to only seeing a fraction of the night sky. They may not even see that as a problem. For me the sight of the stars is something I never tire of, the shifting of the cloud and the gentle natural changes in the light are an immediate forecast of weather to come. if I were to offer you the choice of a clear day or a dull misty day, no doubt most would choose the clear. The colours and fresh air lift the spirit, but the night has no such luxury, to keep the urban dwellers safe it seems we have to loose the natural colours and patterns of night.

Sit for a while and wait for the quiet of night

Monday, 20 September 2010

Familiar Moonlit Tracks

Tonight I stepped onto familiar tracks in the moonlight. I adore this time of the month with the moon lighting the way, with the silver light on the trees and forming pools on the autumn ferns it is indeed something special. I realised as I walked that the wrong mindset could make the wood an intimidating place. So often as a child I was told to focus or concentrate, all well and good if you are solving a mathematical problem or a test of detailed observation. I find a clear mind helps with the task of walking in such conditions, not a focused mind.
By allowing all your senses to inform you of the general surroundings, the chances of loosing footing in the darkness or moonlit shadows is reduced, as is the chance of being disturbed by a shadow or movement in the darkness. Sound carries so well in the still wood, from a moment standing still I can hear owls and distant traffic. any disturbance in the undergrowth is easily detected. My sense of touch tells me of every breath of wind and  the ground beneath every footfall. My sense of smell picks up the aroma of the autumn fires within houses close to the wood, my eyes are treated to the illuminance of the full moon and the sight of the stars in a clear sky above the wood.
From experience I am aware that fear causes focus, a focused mind centers on a point and quickly analyses it before deciding on fight or flight. It disregards the peripherals and prepares itself for a preconceived threat.
By relaxing the mind and educating the subconscious, so much more information can be gathered. Fear is an essential part of our make up and evolution, it often guides our movements to preserve us. But a life lived in fear misses so much.
With the exception of my old dog I am the only one who perceived the treasures before me tonight and I will gladly share them here.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Alone in thought

Good evening

I thought I would start my blog with a thought that will often come to mind on my travels. It seems to me that people are have become afraid of many things, including their own thoughts and solitude. Its understandable that humans find their well being in friends, family and the warmth of a home. But to be alone in the darkness seems to strike folk with unease, even if there is physically no risk of harm.

The mind seems to excel in seeking distractions and will drag dark distant memories into being when there is nothing for the eyes to feast on or company to talk to. Have we done such wrongs that we are afraid to be in solitude with our thoughts, or do we simply seek comfort and reinforcement so much that we cannot bear to be without it.

I have no great teachings to impart with this blog, just a journey and my thoughts along the way. I hope to travel with you and share a little knowledge.