Today is the first day of the “30 Days Wild” challenge, the idea being to do something WILD every day during June. Fortunately they don’t have to be big “somethings” – so I don’t have to climb a mountain or swim the channel each day. Just incorporate something that connects me to nature every day for a month.
How hard can that be? Guess I’ll find out by the end of the month! 30 Days Wild is organised by the Wildlife Trusts and they’ve set up a page with links to lots of other bloggers doing the challenge. So if reading my ramblings isn’t enough, then check out the others at http://www.mywildlife.org.uk/30dayswild/30-days-wild-bloggers/
For Day 1, I thought I’d go and look at the oldest living thing I’m likely to find anywhere in Herefordshire or Worcestershire – actually it’s pretty much the oldest living thing I’m likely to see anywhere! Peterchurch in Herefordshire’s Golden Valley boasts a Yew Tree that is reputed to be about 3000 years old. I’ve never got up close and personal with a Yew Tree, let alone one that old, so the 30 Days Wild challenge seemed the ideal opportunity to do so.
The Yew Tree was pretty easy to spot in the churchyard, which was itself conveniently located next to a pub. As Day 1 coincided with my weekly Wednesday outings for a pub lunch with my 84 year old Dad, my venerable parent got dragged round too – the aged meeting the aged! Here he is looking slightly bemused next to the tree.
The tree stands in Peterchurch’s churchyard and was previously thought to be only about 750 years old, but recent studies by tree experts have determined that it is probably at least 3000 years old. This means it dates back to Neolithic times and due to the Yew’s supposed association with religious sites might suggest that the Norman church could have been built on the site of a much earlier ceremonial place.
The tree is hollow and seems to be growing out the way from its centre, presumably expanding its girth each year (aren’t we all!) There is a lot of charring on the inside of the tree which, while terribly sad that anyone would want to set fire to such an amazing thing, in a way adds to the mystique and atmosphere.
I did something I’ve certainly never done before – stood in the centre of a tree and looked up its trunk to the sky! It didn’t feel at all like I was in a tree or a living thing, more like a beautiful vaulted cave.
The bark alone was a work of art, like a gnarly sculpture or a giant piece of driftwood, beautiful and very tactile.
It was amazing to see a tree like this, knowing it has been on this spot for 3000 years. I can trace my family back over 500 years in Herefordshire, but to think that this tree had already been standing here for 2500 years before the earliest known Rowberry trod the Shire is quite incredible.
While there I had this “brilliant” idea to video the tree as I walked around it – thought it would give more of a feel of this ancient being. Turns out this is not as easy as it sounds! Cue shaky footage while I stumble round the tree trying not to trip over gravestones, with my Dad talking in the background (my fault – I should have made it clear to him beforehand that the video would record sound too!)
The video makes it sound as if the churchyard was a lot noisier than it actually was. It was really very peaceful and full of birds (including this pair of thrushes that were doing their best to pretend we weren’t there). Just realised something as I write this – I forgot to hug the tree. If there was ever a tree that deserved to be hugged, Peterchurch’s Yew Tree must surely be it.
It wasn’t exactly a day basked in sunshine today (it had been chucking it down in Malvern earlier), but I think it would be lovely to go back to Peterchurch on a really nice hot day and just sit and contemplate life under the Yew Tree for a while. I’m hoping 30 Days Wild will bring more such revelations – finding things, places, activities that I enjoy this June, then mentally bookmarking them for future enjoyment too.
I’d originally got the idea of visiting the Yew Tree from Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s suggestions for 30 days wild. What a great suggestion it was – if anyone else is looking for inspiration go to: http://www.herefordshirewt.org/30-days-wild
As a bit of a side-line to 30 days wild, I thought I’d showcase some of the “weeds” that flourish under the Too Lazy To Weed regime (assuming a regime can be a system of having basically no system). So a different weed every day for 30 days. First up the Forget-Me-Not – I’m not sure which species we get in the garden – possibly a hybrid. Whichever they are, I’ve always loved their bright blue cheery little flowers. They’ve been a favourite since I saw a whole meadow of them on a childhood holiday. They flourish in our garden and have seeded themselves pretty much everywhere. They are quite delicate though and after flourishing in a patch one year will easily be superseded by some of the tougher bigger weeds. Why anyone would want to weed these out of their garden is a mystery to me – they are so much prettier than any cultivated exotic plant. And of course the insects love them – pretty and functional – a Win-Win Weed!