Gillian Monks

'Making Fairytales Come True'

Tag: Autumn

Woodland Foraging

Out until twilight this evening in Beddgelert forest, gathering the abundance of the woodland for a workshop I am leading this coming Sunday afternoon. It is part of the ‘Vibrant Vegan’ retreat at Trigonos and I am busily assembling baskets and baskets of acorns, beech and alder masts, hazel nuts, heather, berries and foliage to provide the twenty-two participants with enough living potential to make autumnal door wreaths, broaches, table decorations and – lastly – cute little fir cone gnomes.

All good fun, and gives me a lovely excuse to be wandering the  woodland ways with my family and dogs as I source and gather the necessary wild materials. And yes, I am always respectful, and ask each bush, plant or area if it is willing to donate some of its produce to whatever I am making. I am also careful not to over-pick from any one tree or place so that no one can actually see I have been there and taken anything. One also had to bear in mind that many insects, animals and birds rely on our autumnal abundance for winter food. They are mostly territorial and we humans need to be careful not to completely denude one territorial patch and leave some wild creature without supplies.

Always remember to be thoughtful, grateful and appreciative. Otherwise, a stroll in the sunshine to collect some bits and pieces to make a seasonal wreath is a really lovely past-time for this time of year. Take a walk out… and enjoy!

A Woman For All Seasons

It seems as if we have had all four seasons in one week!

Gillian at Dorothea

Observing the autumn in the quarry

First came ‘spring’ last weekend with all manner of spring and early summer flowers having a second go at blooming – the rhododendron outside my dining room window is fairly well covered in delicate blooms – smaller than their early summer counterparts, but flowers nonetheless.

On Monday, autumn had descended. The valley was filled with lowering grey skies weeping mizzely rain and softly drifting leaves of gold and brown. My son and I decided to take a walk down our local disused quarry. Muffled in waterproofs and armed with foraging baskets we strode into the silent woods with our two golden Labrador dogs happily snuffling through the rank undergrowth. The woods were immensely welcoming and the various lakes (formed where once-cavernous quarry holes have now filled wit water) lay serenely still without a ruffle of a breeze across their bright surface.

Autumn in the quarry

Dusk approaching on a damp and very still autumnal afternoon

This felt more authentically appropriate. After all, it is October now. Time to bid farewell to light warm summer days, the fruitfulness of harvest fields and rich wild abundance of woodland and hedgerow. The only things left here to gather are mushrooms of many kinds – some destined for the dispensary and medicinal purposes and others for the kitchen. We gratefully filled our baskets. Then stood to witness the Earth sighing and stretching as she settles for her Winter sleep.

But what is this? By Wednesday we were plunged back into ‘summer’! Blue skies and golden sunshine; the temperature a very balmy 21 degrees and suddenly everything I was wearing was too thick and far too hot. Out came the strappy sandals and tissue-thin dresses again…

Now it is Friday and what do we have? Winter gales buffeting the house, some trees suddenly stripped prematurely bare, rain rattling against the window panes in squally torrents and the daylight almost gone, even though it is only 5.40.pm..

What, I wonder, might the next couple of days bring? Which season might we be inhabiting come the beginning of the new week?

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