Feb 18th: worth getting out of bed for

Sandilands tree planting

The snow is lying in the hollows of the hills which rest above the fields like a great backbone with their white ribs of snow. The cold tang in the air, and I'm thinking about prevailing wind direction and there isn't one. We're so close to Cross and Great Dun fell, that give us a North East blast, but then on other days there's a southwest current rippling over the valley from the lakes.

A sparrowhawk ruffles its feathers in a tree on the hedge line a field away, and under the hedge by the gate in my field are a pile of pigeon feathers and I wonder if the two events are connected. On another day buzzards circle against a leaden sky, pregnant with raindrops. The clouds crack open and the shards of sunlight flick onto the bare branches of individual trees left to grow, and a rainbow crescents across the sky.

How can one not be in love here? It's even infecting the teens who come to plant. It's worth getting out of bed for, switching off and unplugging for. 11 youngers from 8-16 have planted and played these last few weeks. Planted hedges, prepared plans, dug holes and dreamed. The soil from the hole where he is looking for spring water, turns into a rocket stove which he lights with a flint. Another watches the dog digging for rabbits. She catches one. I wring its neck as she's punctured its sides. They want to watch it being gutted and skinned, but I left my sharp knives at home.

Life unfolds gently. The end of the day rushes in, all too soon, and we look at the rows of newly planted trees, at this new beginning, and plan for the next gathering, which will include bikes, balls (foot and rounders ones) and blazingly good food. A pizza oven has also been mentioned as at the bottom of that well hole is surprisingly good clay.

Elizabeth Woodcock

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