On a dull morning last weekend I noticed that some trees at the top of the hill were looking uncharacteristically white. Climbing up towards them I found myself walking in much colder air. This was, clearly, a temperature inversion. All the trees up there were coated in hoar frost -surely one of the most beautiful spectacles of the more-than-human world, even when unlit by sunshine.
I walked across some frozen fields to a beech wood, and stood transfixed amongst illuminated branches. My sense of having been transported to another world was heightened by the complete lack of frost in the valley below. I hope these images (double click to enlarge) give a rough idea of what I saw.
As someone who has always been open to such experience I’m genuinely puzzled that some of my fellow humans seem to be unmoved by aesthetic experience. At a time when so much anthropogenic chaos is being unleashed upon the rest of nature, its re-assuring to know that there are very many others who appreciate, and are working to protect, the integrity, diversity, and yes, beauty, of nonhuman life.
On another recent walk I came upon these marvellously coiled oak trees, emerging from a rock outcrop. Their serpentine forms exude a strength and confidence developed during lives spent responding to the prevailing currents of Westerly winds that must regularly pour down from the fields above.
I’ve always liked the muted tones of winter, and the patterns formed by sleeping trees. But I also find a harsher pared-down beauty in the open moors and upland pasture that surrounds my home town. In spring, when the birds return, there is an obvious kind of beauty -not least in the song of skylarks- but at this time of the year there is still the slightly uncanny beauty of shifting cloud forms, of varying density, that brush across the land, concealing and revealing. Here lastly, then, is an image (with no trees) of a restored section of packhorse track, which I like because of its ambiguity. Was I walking up towards the clouds, or down into a fog bank?
B.T. 31st January 2017.