At this time of the year everything seems possible. Spring’s optimism rocks me gently out of Winter’s sleep and as the grip of cold starts to lift we are blessed with the first jewels of the season, plum’s white blossom, the giant unfurling bulbs of horse chestnut, and some new additions to my field notebook. The dainty yellow flowers of the Cornelian Cherry (pictured here), a type of European dogwood, and the drooping white bloom of white flowering currant found on the roadside just past the Red Spring.
It’s been a tumultuous few weeks of walking, in one moment the weather seemed to want to cause us harm, the next it was all cute and sunny. Our Wells trees walk on the 5th March was a perfect example of the veering weather conditions, in the sun it felt like Spring, but Winter still lurks in the shadows.
This transitional period is also apparent internally as periods of tiredness and a desire to return to bed are contrasted by periods of frenzied and inspired activity. It’s like the human is waking up into the year, but still drifts into patches of dreamy snoozing.
Walks have been irregular and hurried, either dodging wet weather or wrapped up in too many layers. On one hand, the wind attempts to remove my Winter coat by force, while on the other, the sun attempts to remove my coat by warmth!
The story continues. TheTo The Trees project enters its fourth season of activity and with the moon full just before the approaching Equinox, I will take this opportunity to launch into the new season with an audio-visual feast, a newsletter that including tree planting, album launching, podcast making, storm chasing, and the never ending observation of nature’s cycles that once again return us to an end and a beginning.
This multimedia extravaganza includes the first in a new series of podcasts. Season 2, Ep 1 of the To The Trees podcast (available to watch below) comes from the woodland at Paddington farm. We enjoy a meandering audio-visual tree walk around the woods, meet and identify some of the trees, share some poetry and other written words, and I include a preview of the title track from my new EP, For The Fire.
The podcast includes an introduction to some baby trees I planted this month with my Dad. Over the last couple of years he has been nurturing a handful of native tree saplings in his garden with the intention of us planting them together in a place where I could watch them grow and revisit them over the years. I decided to ask Paddington farm if we could contribute to their young expanding woodland, and they agreed.
It was an awfully wet and windy day early in the month, the ground was sodden in places and our fingers soon became numb. Despite the weather, it was a thoroughly enjoyable outing and a great way to connect with my Dad with whom I share a deep connection to nature.
We were successful in planting 12 trees in total and I talk more about the planting and introduce the trees in the podcast video, available below.
The Great White Ash
This month’s walking has been intense, what with the winds that descended upon the island. I am still discovering losses. In most cases the fallen trees had structural issues and if they had not fallen in this storm, they almost certainly would have fallen in the next.
My walks have been in observation of these losses, in particular the Great White Ash, to whom I recorded the following live virtual walk, now available on YouTube, see the player below.
Fallen trees look so undignified, especially when they snap at the base like this ash. They remind me of beached whales, utterly majestic beings reduced to helplessness upon land. It is a sad state to see inflicted upon a dear friend.
In search of a glimmer of the bright side, the fact that the tree is now laying horizontally gave me my first chance to climb it. I had been reluctant to ascend this tree while it was standing, aware of the fragility of its trunk and the accessible branches who suffered from decay due to canker, I would have damaged the tree for sure. In the following video I take the chance to climb up its horizontal trunk and into its reaching branches.
Though the tree was certainly ready to fall, it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to the Great White Ash.
Losing an old tree is like losing a Grandparent and a child at the same time. They are wise elders, but you don’t expect them to leave before you.
Here’s to The Great White Ash x
I am currently preparing for a busy start to Spring. In April I will talk at the Pilgrimage Conference to be held in Glastonbury Town hall. A selection of speakers will talk about their experience of pilgrimage, and there will be an exhibition of photography by Irena Zenovar – In a moment, for whom I am also creating a portfolio website.
My talk will introduce the To The Trees project and talk about the creative relationship I have with the landscape. The way that walking and learning has allowed nature to enter my life, inspiring creative work, improving my relationships, mental and physical health, even deepening my general knowledge. The more I study the trees the more I realise that the study of nature entails a study of many other subjects: language, poetry, biology, physics. The more one looks the more one realises that nature’s teachings are the deepest of all.
The To The Trees project has allowed me to share my joy of nature with my community, to present myself in a more complete and honest way, integrating myself socially into the community, providing my human with purpose and meaning, deepening my relationship with the place I live, and discovering more of myself, year-by-year, as the subtle underlying cycles and structures of nature infiltrate my being.
The experience of open heartedness and inspiration I witness when in nature is ineffable, yet the yearning to communicate it is not negated by knowing that words aren’t enough. Still the heart reaches from the chest in search of sentences, explanations and metaphors that can carry the depth of the experience for others to share. And always without fail, fully failing to express it.
I look forward to attempting to put my experiences of walking in Avalon into a coherent presentation for the pilgrimage conference at the end of April.
I’ll see, speak or sing to you soon.
MW – 18/03/22
P.S. To support the to the trees project, please consider leaving a small donation for this creative work:
Receive these articles straight to your inbox, sign up here: http://eepurl.com/gSt1mj
Upcoming Tree Walks
Public Tree Walks – By donation (unless stated)
Meet at St John’s Church, High St, Glastonbury, unless stated.
Abbey Tree Walk & Talk
Note: Abbey Entry fee is not included
Meet the Abbey trees and learn tree identification.
Sat 9th Apr – 11am – 12.30pm – £10pp
Book: 07548 936 081
Public Tree Walks, Glastonbury – By Donation
Sat 19th Mar – Public Tree Walk, Glastonbury – 11am – 1pm
Sat 18th Apr – Equinox Tree Walk, Glastonbury – 11am – 1pm
Mon 2nd May – Beltane Bank Holiday Tree Walk, Glastonbury – 11am – 1pm
Book: 07548 936 081
Public Tree Walks, Wells- By Donation
Sat 2nd Apr – Wells Tree Walk – £10pp – 11am – 12.30pm
Sat 7th May – Wells Tree Walk – £10pp – 11am – 12.30pm
Book: 07548 936 081
Tree Identification Workshops
Sat 26th Mar – Spring Tree ID Workshop – 11am – 12.30pm – £10pp (children free)
Sat 30th Apr – Spring Tree ID Workshop – 11am – 12.30pm – £10pp (children free)
Book: 07548 936 081
Walks for individuals, groups, and retreats at a date and time to suit you.
Call Matt to book: 07548 936 081
A Visual Diary – Mar 2022
Bring the outside in!
Sign up for Matt’s bi-weekly email and podcast featuring highlights from his private walks around Avalon. You will receive all content directly to your inbox, emails will be sent on the New Moon and Full Moon.