This is a place I love to sit – on an ash tree at the edge of Barley Valley woods. One of its two trunks goes upright, but the other, larger one stretches out horizontally and then bends down to the ground before rising up again. Behind me is a path that people walk along, often with their dogs. They don’t usually seem to notice me sitting there in a tree, but the dogs sometimes come to investigate. Below me, the land drops down into the heart of the woods where a small stream flows. In this place at the edge there is so much happening – birds sounding and moving about, butterflies and other insects, light and leaves shifting. The ash feels like an old friend to me now. It has the dieback, but who knows which of us will succumb first. We both live at the edge.
I look up to see the way ash leaves tremble in the slightest breeze. A wood pigeon lands on a thin branch at the top of an elder bush – then slowly slides down, bending the little branch until it can peck the berries. Most of the berries are gone now from the top of that bush. There is such a sense of falling way in this place at the edge of the woods – of slowly being pulled downhill – of slipping, sliding, tumbling – of resistance and insistence too – of reaching up – of pushing through. Even this ailing, moss covered ash keeps sending up new shoots.
There is no separation here between living, moving, reaching up, bending, crumbling, falling away – a system unself-consciously, with sensitivity, adapting to every push, pull, opportunity.