The "ley" in the name Totley, denotes a place of cleared woodland. Two days ago I spent the morning photographing the ancient oaks in the fields around Totley Hall Farm. According to countryside and woodland history expert Oliver Rackham, oaks are no longer able to seed themselves easily in woodland as the American fungus dieases all oaks are now prey to seems to affect their ability to regenerate in woods, but does not affect them in the open. So I suppose this means the English oaks in woods will die out at some point. But what about these trees in field boundaries, presumably the remnants or assarts of the ancient cleared woodland? Should we be collecting their acorns and sowing them, protecting them from grazing by sheep? Should we be talking to the Woodland Trust (some of whose small planted trees were taken down for the new bus terminus at the end of Gillfield Wood)?
These oaks are old, venerable, each very much an individual. I feel rather humbled in their presence.
Of course, much of Gillfield Wood, an ancient wood, was chopped down in the 1950's and replanted with commercial American oak. So these field boundary oaks are the legacy of the older wood. Luckily the replanting hasn't seemed to affect the wonderful woodland plants too much - looking forward to the bluebells and right now the wood anenomes are delicately delightful.
Stonewalling at Woodthorpe on 21st - and marvellous it is too. They are also going to replace the mock Gothic gate that hung here. You can see another at the back. I think they were made by a previous Shepley sometime early in the twentieth century but I can't remember where I read this. I hope they are as lovely.
Sorry to have neglected the journal - have been in Amsterdam to see my son (see my Flickr pictures) and in Lincolnshire to look after my Mum.
However - the big news is that I have won quite a major poetry competition - one of 4 winners in the Poetry Business pamphlet competition judged by Michael Longley. So I will get a pamphlet of poems published. I am over the moon....
Here, together with a photo from yesterday's walk, is a poem which will be in the pamphlet:
Duck, and you’re fed inside this oak-soaked dark - a gullet carved from wildwood where a pheasant’s broken clockwork startles.
You’re breathed in. Only rattled blackbirds breach the arched green hush where banks are mossed. Soft earth, hard stone, leaf-litter, flesh the floor, and still you are flowed, a boat, runnelled and cundy borne, away from heat that frets in a future - not of your choosing, yet somehow of your making.