The sapling

I wrote this a little while ago

I sit down hard on the rock beside the river. I can see the streaks of red in the sky. The sun is setting. I have to get home, or I will be stuck out here all night. That would be too cold. So cold I could die. But I still hold onto the cold earth in the hand.
I really don’t know where to go now.

This morning, I went for a walk. It was a brisk morning, but I still went.
I just wanted to escape from the house, even on such a cold day where nothing stirred. There is still some ground frost left over from the winter, the cold, cold winter where we couldn’t even move the car for a month it was so freezing out.  I suppose that helped in making everything so much more hard inside.
So today, on the warmest day so far this year, I decided to go for a walk.

Beside my house, on the outskirts of the city, up the hill slightly, there is a forest. A large forest where you can sit for a few hours without seeing a soul. That’s the reason I always go there when my mind is full. I always take my knife, just in case

I decided to walk to the river that runs through my forest. On the way, I saw a sapling.
And not an old one, either. It was a fresh new bud, bursting out of the ground in spite of the cold. Maybe the seed had decided that life was short, and so on the fifth of March, even though it still felt like mid winter, it had set out its new sources of life. I could tell that the frost was taking its short life already, as there was already browning on its leaves beneath the slender rim of tiny, sparkling crystals and it was sagging heavily, crumpling away.
So I decided one thing.
I would save this tree’s small, fragile life.
And so I pulled off my gloves and began to dig through the frozen soil with my bare fingers. At first, I made no mark on the solid ground, but after a while, the heat of my fingers warmed it up and it began to scrape away.
While I was digging fruitlessly, I looked upwards, towards the tops of the trees. I saw the sky, blue and chilling, the silhouettes of the bare trees only making it more cold. Sometimes I like winter, because the coldness and the starkness of everything reflects my thoughts and feelings. In the summer it feels too much like the earth is rejoicing without me. But in the winter it sympathizes with me.

My fingers felt roots, and I gently worked around them. I would not want to injure this delicate creature. After much teasing, it came free of the earth. I slowly stood up, my legs sore and knees cold.
I began to walk. I didn’t really care whether or not it was in the direction of home. I never wanted to go back there.
A jay laughed mockingly in the trees around me. It reminded me of the jeering laughs of my classmates, as they made fun of me. Made fun of my messy, worn, too small clothes, my tangled hair, my hollow, dark eyes, my unusual alliance with trees. They hurt me and they knew I would never tell anyone.
Because the teachers didn’t care any more. They didn’t care about me.

Often, I considered leaving. Going to someone, getting help.
I ran away once. I knew he wouldn’t notice. I left for the whole summer, living in the woods out here. I went back every week at night when I knew he would be in the pub.
But when school started again, I went back. Because I knew that if they noticed that I didn’t come in any more, they would send someone out to find me.

I wandered for ages, deeper into the woods. Although I had lived there for so long, I didn’t recognize this place. But I kept going, because I had nowhere else to go.

That’s how I got to be here.
I sit down hard on the rock beside the river. I can see the streaks of red in the sky. The sun is setting. I have to get home, or I will be stuck out here all night. That would be too cold. So cold I could die. But I still hold onto the cold earth in the hand.
I really don’t know where to go now.
I realize that I left my gloves behind when I was digging up my sapling. I try to follow my tracks backwards but I lose them and see that I am going in the wrong direction. So I crumple in exhaustion beside a tree. I try to pull some branches near, to insulate my body.
I place my head to the ground.
A robin sings beside me. I think it can sense my thoughts and feelings, because as I lie there lifelessly, It hops nearer and looks closely at me. It jumps onto the earth in my hands.  The robin’s beady eye twitches as it cocks its head and looks all around. In the fading light I can see the vibrancy of its red breast, so bright and cheerful.
It looks so happy.

I cast my eyes up towards the darkening sky. I can see a star beginning to shine out. The trees rustle in a gentle breeze.
I wait.
And then I sleep.

I awake the next morning to a blanket of snow over my cover of sticks.
I don’t know if I am dead or not. I should be. But I still sit up, and begin to make a shelter for myself. It’s a long process, and so I start early. At least I still have my knife.

By the end of the day I have finished, and I slip inside. I have kept the sapling, and now I plant it carefully inside my shelter, in a place I will not tread on it yet I will be able to keep it warm at night.

The next day, because of my hunger, I find a few edible plants and feed off them. But I know this is not enough long term. But before that, I have to make a fire.
I begin to construct a bow drill, with a long strong stick and my shoelace. I take off my other shoelace too, so that I can make a basic bow later.
After a long while of tiring, painful rubbing, I begin to create smoke from my drill. I drop that into my tinder, and with some gentle coaxing, build up a small fire. I keep it down, so that I can have heat but minimum smoke or flame. Then I begin to carve away at my bow.
After a few days of painful hunger, my bow is finished and I have three arrows, fletched and sharp.

Finally.
It’s just one bird, but it is enough. My first catch.
The skinning and gutting is a nasty business, but when I set the pigeon roasting over my fire, it is worth it. I go down to the river to wash my hands, delirious with hunger.
That was the best meal of my entire life

And now, three years later, probably many miles away, I still live.
Sometimes I wonder if I actually died that day. My life just got so much better after that one time. Since then I have worked hard, but I have not seen another human. I like it that way.
And for the sapling that led me to where I am, it is now a flourishing young tree. I took it with me when I moved two weeks after that fist time I left and planted it here, in this secret, far away place where I don’t think anyone will ever find me.

Some people may wonder how a seventeen year old lives in the forest on her own.
But I’m born for the forest.
I belong here, with the trees.
And I will stay here forever.

Swirled wire earrings

Pretty similar to the ones I made ages ago, but with thicker wire and a shorter stem.
So, it’s a bank holiday today. Usually I would be happy to miss a day of school. But a Monday? I love Mondays! No Irish, double art, it’s just the best. But I have to have a Tuesday. Not good. I have an Ancient Greek exam which I have not studied for, and loads of Irish class. And I can not, for the life of me, do Irish. I got 37% on it 😦 It was, as my math teacher would say, an outlier in my results that brought my average down a lot. And I can’t get an exemption either. So six (or five :() more years left of failing on of my exams every time.

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Spiced hot chocolate

These are wonderful on a cold day
Ingredients: (1 mug)
The size of mug you will use of milk (I used half soya half almond but you can use anything, my favourite is goats)
Two teaspoons of cocoa powder
Two-three teaspoons of brown muscovado sugar (you can use regular sugar but this gives it a wonderfully rich, spiced flavour)
One teaspoon of ginger
One teaspoon of cinnamon
A capful of vanilla extract

Set the milk on to heat up, in a pan or milk heater, whatever’s on hand.
Mix the dry ingredients in the bottom of the mug
Add the vanilla extract and one teaspoon of water, maybe more water.
Stir well to make a paste
Add the hot milk (frothed if that is what your preference is)
Stir and enjoy 🙂
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A little rant about homework

This is a speech about homework I wrote ages ago for school.

‘Is homework benefiting me in any way?’
This is one of the first questions I asked when I began in school.
Not having done ANY homework in my life before, it seemed like a ridiculous notion to suddenly spend all of my free time doing something boring and labourious, where the positive effects were not to be guaranteed.
I have just missed eight years of homework, not to mention schoolwork, and I am getting on just fine in school. So what has the education system been telling us all our lives?

There is virtually no evidence at all that homework helps us learn. The opposite of that is the conclusion that I make, myself.
For a start, At Tønder Gymnasium in southern Jutland, Denmark, where third-year high school students have not had homework since they started at the school, the graduation rate has grown from 70 percent to 85 percent. The national average is 75 percent. At the same time, grade point averages have risen by 1.1 points on the 7-point grading scale.
Many experts have claimed that homework creates negative energy between students and their teachers and parents. When parents are constantly nagging children it forms a negative relationship. If we did not do homework, this would not be an issue.
So why do we still do homework?

There are some small bits of evidence supporting homework, though.  Studies have shown that homework is of some benefit for students aged 11-13, for exam purposes, but for older students, there is research that shows that more is counterproductive when more than 2 hours of homework is given to them. For younger students, there is very little evidence of it being beneficial, apart from drilling into them the long, tedious chore of homework and study.
This is not sufficient enough proof to show that homework should be such a routinely part of our lives.

My biggest issue is the lack of free time that I have during the day. When I get home, all I want to do is read, bake, play piano, play cello, go walking in the mountains, or simply relax, but I can’t. I usually have lots of homework piled up. I still have to spend 1-2 hours doing homework, spend an hour on the piano, eat, tidy the kitchen, and get to bed in time to be able to open my eyes the next day.
We must have to have some sort of time to spend on our hobbies. If we do not develop our own interests and opinions, what are we going to do when we leave school?

One issue that causes me many problems is the excessive amount of weight on our backs. Books are so heavy that they are causing serious problems in the spinal development of children. For stronger students, perhaps in older years, this may not be such an issue, but for younger students in secondary school, this is a serious issue that may lead to long term back problems. Michael Lynch, who carried out a study on the issue in 2006, noted that a government working group report in 2008 recommended that 12-year-old pupils should carry books weighing no more than 3.7 kg. However, he pointed out that average student of this age has a school bag weighing 11.8 kg. Bags should be at the very most 10% of our body weight.
Just the other day, I had homework in nearly all the subjects I had had throughout the day. When I swung my school bag onto my shoulder, the weight of it pulled me over and every time I tried to stand up, it pulled me down again. I did finally manage to get up, though. For a 30 kilo person like me, carrying a 10 kilo bag is 1/3 of my body weight. That is 3 times more than the recommended amount.

In my opinion, homework should be stripped back to the bare minimums, at the very least. If we spend all of our day in school, why should we spend more time doing schoolwork when we get home?
All evidence clearly points toward homework being an impractical and counterproductive use of our spare time.

Blog Birthday!

So, today, one year ago, I made this blog! I didn’t think it would last this far, to be honest with you.
I started then with the idea of making stuff and putting it online. I suppose it still is. But now I post about more than just my crafts, usually.
Then, I didn’t go to school, and had no intention to. But with my friends gone, and my being rather lonely, I did decide to. But you can thank that for my crafting, as my lack of friends prompted to stay in the house more, therefore make more, bake more, and blog more. Those who have followed me since then have probably noticed how my posting has considerably dwindled since September. But for me, school has been a blessing, not because of the homework and schoolwork, but because of the amazing people I have encountered there. I am so lucky to have met the people I now, after a few months, love so much.
But I still craft, even though I have less time. It is still my escape, where I go into a crazy meditative trance while crafting and making jewellery. If I have music on while making things, it is even more relaxing. Some days, when I have too much homework, I just don’t do it and sit in my room twirling wire for hours. Even though homework detention is looming the next day, I don’t care, because I made something.
I think that’s why I started crafting in the very first place. A world of freedom where my mind can soar is the best gift I could have.

Update

Oh dear. Time does fly. One minute I was posting on this and the next, the internet breaks down, I have rehearsals every spare minute of my life and yes, I stop blogging. But that’s just life.
So. Two days ago, I got a new phone. Kinda fancy in comparison to the last, free one.
My school musical is finished. I would talk about it more but it would basically give you all the details of where I go to school and where I live… I was very sad when it ended though, with all those months of work that everyone put in.