Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Weekend in the woods

The Girl and I spent the weekend in the far woods of County Clare, where an amazing group called CELT offers courses in woodland crafts. The Girl was old enough, this year, to take the course for children, and learned to carve walking sticks and a spoon for herself. Her instructor took several children around the woods there, showing them the various animal tracks, what plants to eat and what to avoid. I started carving a bow, but it's a long way from finished.

We also took a long walk around the forest with the old man who has owned and maintained the land for decades, Del Harding. Harding led a group of us across the landscape features, from an ancient spring to a Victorian sawyer pit to his newly-dug frog pond. He pointed out obscure plants and flowers in unobtrusive crannies, spoke lovingly of the individual animals that lived there. Most of all, he talked about wood and soil, how he coppices the occasional tree to create more new growth and either carve the wood or use it to recultivate the healthy mattress of underfoot mycellium.

That night we and others gathered around a campfire and sang, The Girl singing along and playing sticks to others' fiddle and washboard. As we camped outside for the night, The Girl for the first time, she asked, "Can we do this every weekend?"

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