I'm preparing for the first foraging walk from the confines of the spare bedroom - the date is now set for 27/01. Posters have been designed and ordered, emails sent, researching materials as much as I can from an internal perspective. I’ve sewn up some foraging bags ready for dying next week. I’ve been listening to podcasts - mostly about ecology and inter-relational connections between species. Thinking about the woodland at Lundsfield quarry and the apparent dormancy of the site. The fallen trees (I counted 12 that came down recently in storm Arwen) that will eventually rot down and provide new habitats for other species. The constant drone from the nearby M6 now unmuffled by bare branches. And underneath, the mycorrhizal networks are always active, storing carbon, consuming energy, buffering, communicating beneath the ground cover of decaying matter. And the moulds and fruiting bodies above the earth providing energy for invertebrates and small mammals providing energy for larger mammals and birds of prey that ultimately provide energy for the plants and round it goes, season after season… this is deep ecology and an intricate web of inter-dependency: to interfere with any single element (using herbicides/insecticides for example) can jeopardise the whole system.
So what types of material are we going to be able to forage in mid-winter? pine needles - pine cones - bark - leaves (oak) if they’re not too decayed - ivy leaves - we will not be taking berries, which are essential food for non -humans at this time of year.
My feeling is that all of the material gathered will go into the pot together. The resulting ‘potion’ will be unique to that time and place - the ingredients will be documented before adding but unlikely to ever be repeated. The element of unpredictability will add extra interest to the colour alchemy process.
I’ve also been thinking about ways of prompting conversation during the walks. We will each have notebook and pencil with textual prompts on each page to encourage discussion - ideas so far:
everything is connected
what makes us natural?
how do humans positively impact on the environment?
solastalgia: the feeling of grief for lost familiar landscapes
We only see what we look at
how can we envisage new beginnings?
some more experiential prompt ideas:
rub materials on the paper to record pigments - these colours are fugitive and will fade
Flottage - recording the textures
horizontal lines - record the different skylines
draw a map of the route from memory
record words/document species/describe what you see
hug a tree to determine its age - some trees grow faster than others
identification of species
sounds and listening