Tuesday, November 29, 2011

tie a yellow ribbon

I was keen to make something outdoors when I went for a walk at the weekend. My son and husband decided they were cold and wanted to go home so I was left to get on with it myself. There were still a lot of autumn leaves on the ground; sycamore, horse chestnut, oak and a small yellow leaf that I can't identify. You can see it in the second and third photos. It has a sort of fruit on it in late summer. Does anyone know? The sycamore leaves were an amazing bright yellow. I tucked some into some ivy that was curling around the trunk of a tree. There is a custom of tying a yellow ribbon around a tree to symbolize waiting love that goes back to Roman times. This tree is at the bottom of a flight of stairs frequently used by dog walkers. In fact I bumped into a friend walking her spaniel and felt a little odd to be standing there, on my own, with a handful of leaves. I also made a little forest sunflower with the sycamore leaves and a horse chestnut shell. Doing an activity like this definitely made me look at my surroundings more closely and notice the different colours, textures and shapes much more than if I was just walking through.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Feel better outside, feel better inside

Sweet chestnut owl Summerfield woods 2010

Chemin de St Jacques France 2009

In October I blogged about the leaf pictures my family and I made while out for a walk in Summerfield woods. You can see the owl I made in my banner above. I made an owl in the same woods exactly one year before this one. Now that my son is four I'm finding it easier to do fun activities like this. Before, he wasn't really able to join in and hated it when my attention was on anything other than him. I couldn't take photographs either. He was two when we went on holiday to France. We came across the Way of St. James and cycled along the medieval route for a short while. We arrived at a lookout point with a standing stone in a huge field of grapevines.  I had the notion to make a heart with some of the stones piled at the base of it. I thought it would be fun for someone to come along and find it. The day was still, hot and hazy. I arranged the stones carefully while my son pulled on my leg and complained.

Land art by Richard Shilling

Land art by Richard Shilling
I have just come across an amazing, inspiring land artist called Richard Shilling. His hanging leaf sculptures look like exquisite stained glass. Lots more beautiful pictures on his website. I'm also really excited by his site Land Art for Kids which has lots of great information and ideas on there. His book he created with Julia Brooklyn, 'Land Art for Kids in the Woods' is all I want for Christmas.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The bigger picture

View from my garden
Allotment fire viewed from the path outside

The allotment viewed from the East Hill

My son and husband (left) on the East Hill

View from the allotment and head in the clouds on the way home

I'm quite often stooped over, looking downwards, earth between my fingers.
I spend a lot of time closely studying the leaves of plants for signs of disease or invading critters.
You may see me in the street with my nose buried in the petals of an overhanging rose bush.
I sometimes see the world from the perspective of a grasshopper through skyscraper blades of grass.
But when I stand back, really far back, I get a different picture completely.
I see what a small role I have in a very busy and beautiful natural world.
I stop and enjoy the view.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Golden walk

It's getting colder, darker, murkier outside.  The bonfires have all burned out, leaving behind cold, grey ash. The earth sends chills up through my feet. I don't want to linger. I'm remembering a walk home from the allotment before Halloween, when we collected twigs to make a broom. The heavy sun threw giant sized shadows across damp grass. The chill in the air drove us home sooner than I wanted to go.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Can a scarecrow crow scare crows?

We have a new resident at the allotment; his name is Colin the crow. Though with his big orange beak he's more like a blackbird, with green eyes. I'm hoping he'll scare off the birds and animals that spend a good deal of time devouring all my hard work. He's made from black bin liners stuffed with supermarket plastic bags. I read that movement and sound frighten the birds away, so Colin has 'feathers' that flap about in the wind. However, I have a feeling that every mammal and bird in the neighbourhood will be congregating on my plot to laugh at the new curiosity.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Autumn Lights

The Bridge Community Centre had a fantastic Autumn Lights Festival during half-term week which I attended with my son. It was a day full of FREE indoor and outdoor activities including T-shirt designing with Inspire Artwork, lantern and mask making, pumpkin carving, story telling, bird feeder making, potting up strawberry plants and there was a 'Totting Hill' Mini Carnival Parade. I made some blackberry muffins for them to sell along with their other delicious cakes and biscuits. A real mix of families from the surrounding areas visit the Bridge and make use of it's facilities. Many of the local kids rarely leave the neighbourhood, even though we have many beautiful outdoor spaces, parks and the beach too. Being situated in an area of social and economic deprivation, the Bridge benefits these children most of all; giving them a safe space to play and learn and keeping them off the streets.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Twice the fruit - until the frosts come

Yesterday I saw a crab apple tree with fruit and flowers on it at the same time. How can this be? A couple of weeks ago at my allotment I took these photos of my blackberries. They had already fruited very early in the summer season, are fruiting again and are still putting out new flowers. They must be knackered.

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