Thursday, 20 November 2014

Ramblings About Oak Trees

Childhood memories being with an Oak tree 

acorn fairy
I am in awe of Oak trees I feel them as a powerful and magical trees and like their strength and security..  As a child I discovered a huge oak tree in a boundary hedge of a farm.  It was balanced on  the edge of a steep bank where part of the land had slipped away and exposed some of the  roots.  The oak had been hit by a lightening strike and split open on one side and the cleft  was a perfect spot to sit and read, I would snuggle in to the heart of the tree with a book and my toys and happily stay for hours reading and using my imagination to create games. I would make bonnets and tea sets from the acorn cups as a gift to the fairies..

The mighty oak lives for hundreds of years and has provided a safe home for many generations of tree fairies; indeed, its leafy foliage makes an excellent shelter for a fairy house…Clever use of clothing and colour enables tree fairies to 'disappear' into the leafy backdrop. Fairy garments are sewn from leaves and the fairies make new costumes whenever the seasons change. (Cicely Mary Barker)))BARKER 

I  loved to clamber into the cavern of its exposed roots and journey into my imagination.

Down at the bottom  of the bank was a trout stream running with clear water and I would play in it for a while before laying  on the bank and and watch the shoals of  minnows and sticklebacks swimming  past, Other times I stood on the footbridge over the stream and look for river trout in the deep pools along the edge of the stream or hidden among the over hanging vegetation and rocks,  Sometimes I would see rings of water as a trout rose to the surface to feed on the mayflies, water shrimp, caddis flies and other invertebrates.  Other times just under the bridge a trout would lay still in the water with its nose pointing up stream waiting for insects to come floating by. Usually I would only catch a flash of silver as the trout darted away as it spotted me before I even knew it was there.  After playing by the stream I would climb back to the peace and security of my secret space away from my older brothers teasing.

Even today I love to sit along side a great oak or walk round it and gently touch its bark, and leaves enjoy the earthy smell of it.  I collect  a few acorns from a mature oak sometimes carry one or two to empty places in wild areas and gentle push them into the soil to germinate in spring.

Rambling among the Oaks of The New Forest National Park

Rambling in a ancient wood full of Oak trees is a joy at any time of the year but especially Autumn.  Each year  we ramble with Pops in the New Forest.  We delight in scrunching through the layers of gold and red leaves as we walk along the paths meandering though the tree. The path pass alongside the russet hues of patches of bracken   I am enchanted by the the changing moods of the forest created by the weather and season. In Autumn on a sunny day it is lovely to be out in the fresh air. I enjoy inhaling the smell of damp mosses and the earthy scent of leaf litter. It is  is very deep under the oaks as the soft leaves break down quickly in Autumn, creating habitats for stag beetles and other invertebrates.

Stag beetles are threatened species globally,  but here in the South of England they are surviving well, and they flourish in the New Forest.   When we have been walking in the forest on a sunny evening or early in the morning we have caught a brief glimpse of them flying past.

This year the mild and wet weather has provided the perfect conditions for fungi to flourish.  In October rambling  in the New Forest  we saw near an oak  tree a group oak cap and milk cap fungi as well as different fungi growing on the trees branches in cracks and splits in the trees.  Fungi are one of the oldest organism on earth and thrive on the leaf litter of oaks rotting wood and dead animals.

I always feel privileged to see roe deer, fallow or red deer in the forest while wandering along the edges of the forest.  Roe deer tend to be solitary and will quickly disappear into the depths of the forest when disturbed.  Fallow deer stay together in groups they will draw away when they hear us, but then stop and watch us rambling along.  In mid October in certain places in New forest you can hear rutting stags barking and perhaps the clash of horns as two stags fight for dominance over a group of does. 

In the Autumn the squirrels are busy collecting and hiding food for winter, you see them quite often scurrying about on the ground and in the trees making the most of the rich food of seeds and nuts on the forest floor.  However they do not have them all to themselves, badgers, deer, cattle and pony’s feast  on them and they are joined by commoners pigs which allowed to roam in the forest to gorging themselves on the acorns, beech masts and chestnuts.  The commoners have the right to turn out pigs into  the forest between 25th September and 22nd November each year 

The pigs eat huge quantities of acorns and that help to stop the pony and cattle eating too many  acorns,  which can cause them to become ill and sometimes die.  I have heard pigs and boars in the forest but I am wary of disturbing them while they are eating.  Those guy are big and getting bigger.  All the acorns and nuts are just right for fattening the pigs up for Christmas.  

Ssh don't tell them that!  Let them enjoy themselves for the time being!

Until the 12th Century there were Bison roaming freely in the New Forest   They have recently been re-introduced  but they are not allowed to roam free.  I am glad about that as the males are grumpy beast and can run at speeds of 35 mph.   Being Charged  by a herd male bison is not on my wish list to experience  before I die.

The open canopy of oak trees allows sunlight light to filter though to the floor and it providing In Spring perfect conditions for bluebells and primroses to grow but these are dormant now.

A Purple Streak Butterfly
Sheltering in the oak are the pupa of purple streak butterflies, whose life cycle begins on the oak tree.The oaks holes and crevices in the oak bark are favorite nesting spots for the pied flycatcher or marsh tit and woodpeckers whose old nest holes provide shelter for many creatures.  500 hundred different species of insects have been found on a single oak tree.  This food supply of insects encourages British bat species to roost in the oaks and to fed on the rich supply of insects in the tree's canopy. They use old woodpeckers holes or under loose bark for their roost.. It is easy to see if they are living in the tree because below the roost are stains of droppings and urine. Oaks are alive with myriad of creatures that live on it and in it.  If you walk quietly and at times when the forest is not busy with walkers, or foresters you may be privileged to catch a fleeting glance into their lives. 

The wild woods and forest is a wonderful place to ramble any season. I respect and admire all  trees and love to be among Ancient and Veteran oaks.

With Reiki blessing and gratitude to you and to the wild wood trees
and all its living creatures


 A link to my Story:  Gog and Magog  - the famous Glastonbury Oaks