Fox's head, Sheep Return, Valley Community
It has been a long while since our last blog post, and reading back to our last one, life on the moor has changed considerably since then. The trees are bare, dancing their twig arms beautifully in the brash wind. All the ferns have dyed down too, leaving swathes of moor once unseen - now seen. Even in our garden the lowering of the mighty ferns has revealed many new granite entrances into overgrown blackthorn paddocks as well as the footstep of a small square outbuilding which we will tend to before spring comes around.
In the trees many, many small nests have been exposed, telling us summertime stories of the many hundreds of birds that live and fledge in the garden. They are such beautifully crafted little pods of sheep fleece, pony hair and lichen. Ravens nests have been revealed in the ancient oak at the end of the paddocks, looking large, twiggy and imposing. The sheep have returned to their moorland home around the house after a month or two being taken in for the annual goose fair in September. It was lovely to see now fat and fleecy familiar faces of lambs we grew to know and love in the beginning of the year.
Fungi has been an ever present gift all around the house in the last two months. Such incredible variety of colour, shape, size bursts forth under your feet every day. I only wish I were an expert on fungi so I could speak a little more of their language and perhaps eat a few, this is an aim for the future I am sure there are many knowledgable foragers that we could learn from near here.
Frost has now become a regular ally up here, we saw our first white day with frozen puddles and thick icy fog perhaps two weeks ago. It was so breathtakingly beautiful, the moor comes alive in a different clarity when it is cold. The winter rains also bring a water fertility to the land here with gushing leats, high powered frothing streams and waterfalls where once was bone dry moss. I have seen it as the strong veins of this land, like a huge lactating goddess laying her body down in her glorious moistness. I feel for the first time in my life I am seeing the power of winter, the power in the death and dark rather than seeing winter as a charming time of snuggling up by the fire and strolls on the beach - winter here is intense, striking and clearing - and boy! we can feel that. Last night I woke up at 3am with the hurricane at my window, wind singing and rain battling the roof - a part of me wants to fling open the window and let my scalp get icy cold and fill my lungs with fresh hurricane air (perhaps from a teenage enchantment with Cathy in Wuthering heights !?) But I let it lull me to sleep safe in the knowledge that all these winds are giving us magical free electricity all day every day !
These two months have seen a darkening but at the same time for us a well timed opening out into the wider community of the Walkham Valley where we live. First of all we got married in a tiny ceremony in our nearest market town Tavistock. This meant all our closest family came to see our home and life project for the first time. This felt like a beautiful step of celebration and union, now we are Mr & Mrs Aisbitt-Waugh ( we had to double barrel because we both love our names so much and we like that it is a bit of an unusual mouthful!). Secondly we started to meet and make friends with some of our neighbours, there is a lovely community of people who live nearby with a similar ethos and values to us. It feels like we are working towards similar goals here which is so heartening. I have also joined the local woman's circle that is held at another moorland barn home in the nearest hamlet Sampford Spiney. I have been yearning for a connection like this for a while so I feel so lucky to have found them. Toby and I held our first medicine walk last weekend with our neighbours, it was a truly blissful and uniting experience which we will make a regular practice of praise for the land. All in all it feels like we have got our heads slightly above water enough to make some connections outside which has been beautiful and long overdue.
Our dear friends came for our first poetry night last week from the seven stars poetry group in Falmouth. That was also a beautiful time, and wetted our appetite for things to come here. The land wants poetry read ! Toby & I are also starting to meddle in a little more of our own creative practice once again which feels both daunting and exhilarating after all these months of building and chores. Watch this space for some fresh woven pieces and poetry on the horizon. Of course more building projects are being put in place for the new year most importantly fixing leaking roofs and laying stone on the cold concrete floors.
So now I am sitting at the kitchen table watching fat rain come down in sheets, knowing the granite well is filling to brim with mirror clear water and the half skinned fox's head we came across - dropped by ravens on the Tor - will be cleaned to skull in these torrents. The holly keeps greening and the pools keep filling, corvids circle and the last of the mushrooms pop up. Two damp puppies sit at my feet snoozing. Best set a fire now before it gets dark . . .