A Photographic Study of Stumps: there’s life in the old tree yet  #365dayswild #naturenarratives

I’m interested in tree stumps because firstly, they can continue to live on after falling down or being cut down, sometimes even in the absence of any leaves, if they are connected underground to other trees via the mycorrhizal network (known colloquially as the ‘wood wide web’). Irrespective of whether the stump itself lives on, it supports life in one form or another. I have started a photographic study of tree stumps, as a way to explore this. So far I’m noticing stumps either regrow foliage, or become a home for mosses and fungi.

I thought this tree was worthy of a post all to herself. On a night of very high winds in June her trunk split in half and most of the tree fell right across the road, damaging a car and roof of the house on the other side. Fortunately no one was injured, apart from the tree. Looking at the remaining trunk, there is a considerable length of it that is blackened, indicating that the tree had already been partially split for some time, perhaps from previous damage or disease. The next day we found the tree had been cut right down to a stump.

The tree is located in a small park area. There are a couple of trees close by that potentially could be linked to this tree through a mycorrhizal network, which exists only a few centimetres below the soil and so is easily disrupted by development or disturbance. In any case, seven weeks later we discovered the tree was sprouting shoots and some healthy leaves from the living layer of the tree just under the bark. This can be clearly seen in the photographs. As far as I can tell, these leaves are definitely the tree’s own growth and not some opportunist saplings. It was heartening to see this new healthy growth after the sadness and shock of seeing the apparent devastation of a fairly large tree. I am hopeful that her life is far from over and in fact, I sense she is more well since the loss of the damaged limbs. She may be diminished in size, but I think not in vitality. Close around her are many small saplings, presumably her children, and it seems likely that she will be connected to them at least, through a mycorrhizal network, and either she is nourishing them, or they are supporting her. Either way, they are all looking well, and now she has cleared a space, her children have room to flourish.

Today, sixteen weeks since she was cut down, I went to take another photograph before the leaves start to fall. I can see she and her sapling family have all had a fine growing spurt over the summer. I’m looking forward to seeing how they progress.

  

Tree after the storm 7 June
After being cut down 8 June
Signs of life emerging 31 July
Healthy new growth 31 July
New growth 31 July

Tree stump and her babies 26 September

 ©Janey Colbourne 2017

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Lessons from Nettles

 

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Nettles flourish on disturbed ground or highly fertile land, liking high levels of nitrogen, so they grow in abundance where human activity such as intensive farming or waste dumping has enriched the soil. The more we artificially fertilise the soil, the more nettles will grow. Every child quickly learns to recognise nettles through the experience of being stung, and is taught to seek out dock leaves to rub on the sting for relief. This is a lesson that nature provides comfort as well as pain, and that beings that complement and balance each other are found in the same vicinity. It reminds me of what has been said about disaster situations, ‘look for the helpers’- a life lesson that reminds us to see the hope and the connection when we are in despair.

Nettles are also highly nutritious once cooked or dried out to neutralise the toxins, providing iron and other minerals. As a medicine nettles can help with hay fever. So nettles have a dual nature of both warrior and healer/helper. This has led to the saying, ‘grasp the nettle’. If one grasps the nettle firmly and boldly in the right way, with the stinging hairs lying flat to the plant, it is possible to pick it without being stung. So the phrase is used to mean tackle a difficult problem with courage. My thought is that it also means once you face it bravely you find the positive benefit (the nourishment) within.

©Janey Colbourne 2017

Here is a good article about the teachings of Poison Ivy from Dana at The Druid’s Garden blog:

Poison Ivy Teachings from The Druid’s Garden

Unity in Diversity: our hope for the future

I don’t believe that it’s coincidence that as we face growing environmental concerns, inextricably linked with enormous humanitarian crises around the world, we also have the emergence of the most enlightened, awakened and inclusive vision of what it means to be human. We have the potential to utterly transform our world. Around the world prejudice in all forms is being challenged as never before. 

      I believe we are stepping into a new era- the age of neurodiversity pride. Let’s celebrate the diversity of the human being to its fullest extent. We acknowledge the diversity of race, gender, sexuality, religion and culture. It’s time now to acknowledge the value of the diversity of the human brain, to accept and celebrate diverse modes of perception. Neurodiversity encompasses a significant proportion of the population, in the form of high sensitivity, ADHD, ASD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and so on, many of whom see their neurodiversity as a fundamental part of their identity, not as a disorder, since there are benefits and strengths as well as disadvantages. Everyone has some skill, gift, talent or wisdom to share with the world and to deny that, or to be oblivious to it, is to deny the richness of our human capability as an entire species. It’s time to evolve to the next level.
I have great hope for the potential future of humanity. We have in our hands an enormous opportunity. In times of crisis we can work so well together. The generations who lived through the World Wars experienced what we can achieve when we have to unite against a common enemy. The greatest enemy now is within. it is our apathy and sense of disempowerment, our despair, lack of courage and self-belief. It is so true that we fear our own power. We cannot afford to any longer. We face the greatest environmental crisis in human history. Yet all around me I see visions of hope, inspiration, compassion, courageous action, scientific discovery and inventiveness. We have the creative potential to live the most awesome lives of abundance and fulfilment, in harmony with the earth and each other. I truly believe it. Only our fear holds us back.
The global village brings us the awareness of not only inequality, injustice and environmental catastrophes but also of biological and cultural diversity and how awesome and precious that is. These things can no longer be swept under the carpet, despite the best efforts of a media controlled by those with vested interests. 
Globalisation of business corporations creates a dangerous centralisation of power and a worldwide influence on culture and values, but at the same time accessible international communications empowers us through enabling a broad insight and access to unprecedented sources of knowledge. Ideas and news spread like wildfire. Communities of like minded individuals can unite to inspire each other and act together. Let’s seize this opportunity. It’s time to wake up, wise up and rise up! 
© Janey Colbourne 2017

The Equinox and dynamic balance.


Equinox. What does that word mean to me? Balance, equal day and night, spring, autumn. The equinoxes come at a time of changing seasons, or rather, in the midst of the seasons that are changeable. Spring and autumn, while having their own qualities, are the shorter seasons en route to summer and winter. In my part of the world spring and autumn herald variable weather, on average mild, whilst nudging the temperature towards the following season. Most all when I think of spring and summer, I think of fresh air, breezes, blustery winds and rain, lots of it. I think of rain and sunshine together, heavy showers and low sun that dazzles my eyes. Possibly rainbows and possibly hail, although these are rare.

All this fresh air and movement-movement of air and water, and in autumn, falling leaves, creates negative ions in the air. The result is very refreshing, clear air. This contrasts with some of the dry days in autumn when disintegrating leaves combine with dry, loose soil, no longer covered with vegetation, to create a dust storm in the swirling winds of autumn. Some spring days can be warm and humid, with the first rising pollens, and later the cherry blossom dancing on the air, creating a stifling perfume that takes the breath away and makes me sneeze. But still, I love it all with a passion. Spring and autumn are my favourite seasons. I love the change, the moderate temperatures and promising feeling of things to come-cosy winter nights by the fire, crisp snow and fairy lights, or the fattening buds preparing for summer’s burst of abundance and moments of sun in sheltered spots that warm my bones and remind me how summer feels. Spring and autumn make me feel like making a fresh start. They have far more meaning to me than the traditional calendar New Year date.

At the equinox day and night are of equal length, and the seasons are held balance, although it is a dynamic balance, fluctuating through the transition to summer or winter. Balance in nature is not a static thing. Stasis means death, stagnation. Homeostasis, the name for the whole process of our body’s maintenance of balance, is in fact a misnomer. Homeostasis is far from static; it is a never ending minutely adjusting state of balance, a constant process of flux and movement. In this energetic dance of change a balance is achieved that gives the impression of stability, the illusion of ‘stasis’. The moment of balance at the equinox is fleeting. To remain balanced in life, we constantly have to adjust our stance, our actions, to re-evaluate and adapt. The equinox is a good time to reflect and to look at our life balance, to take stock, contemplate, make changes and fresh starts. This equinox, I am working on integrating two sides of myself that have not been working together. This is something I was not conscious of, until I had a clarifying dream very recently. In order to achieve this I had to let go, to some extent, metaphorically closing my eyes and trusting to my inner sense, my ‘spiritual proprioception’ so to speak, to find the right balance. Rather than blowing away-as I feared I might-or remaining rigid and tense, and therefore brittle, letting go and surrendering to the winds of change, while staying aware of my rootedness, means that I am flexible and strong. As I finish writing these words, I look up, and at that very moment, out of my window, I see a rainbow. Synchronicity is a lovely thing. Happy Equinox.

© Janey Colbourne 2017

Acnowledgements.

A special thank you to my dear and wise friend Karen from One Heart Healing, Lancashire and everyone in today’s group for an interesting and inspirational discussion and meditation on acceptance, receiving and balance.

Karen’s website:

https://www.karenonehearthealing.com/

A Thank You To Earth Pathways Diary

This year I was for the first time a contributor to Earth Pathways diary. Once again, next year I am honoured to be contributing, not only to the diary but also to their beautiful calendar. 2018 is Earth Pathways 10th anniversary. These diaries are so beautiful I have kept every one I have ever had. The selection of gorgeous artwork, photography, inspiring words and lovely hand drawn and decorated layout by Jaine Rose is a perfect combination. I feel honoured to be a part of it. The Earth Pathways team are a lovely bunch of people, unsurprisingly, and I wish them continuing success. you can find out more about Earth Pathways and their contributors on the Earth Pathways website. https://www.earthpathwaysdiary.uk/

Awaken (to the wonder)

This is an important message…

Awaken

How have we come to this?
Minutely absorbed
in desperate days.
Vainly seeking
transient bliss in triviality,
we miss infinity.

Blinded by our own lights,
we miss the night sky,
a reminder of
the immensity of awe.
We seek to light the dark
because we are afraid.

Afraid of the vast
and glorious universe.
Afraid to be so small,
yet not seeing how
we are smallest
when we flee.

Behind the concrete,
invented reason.
Ethereal illusions fade
without true soil,
a feeble substitute
for freedom.

Brave dissolution in expansion
beyond the flickered dreams.
An open soul is whole.
Awaken to the wonder,
seek out the night sky,
and remember…

© Janey Colbourne words 2016 recording 2017