A Silence (Spring?)

Today I heard
The all too rare sound of silence
When I took my boots and woollen socks
And with them my feet and legs
And the rest,
From the noisy pebbles
Up to the sea-soft grass that lies
Between stone and rock, and beyond that,
A sea,
That lapped today no stronger
Than a lake in summer.

It is not quite yet the time for silence,
As winter is loud, at least
To my ears.

But today there were
Catkins, on the willow
Coltsfoot flowers, which I had not seen
Before, and
I saw a plant I think looks
As if it might be related to chamomile.

I wore my long skirt,
My sisters scarf
And a green hat
I felt as lovely as the trees today,
Well maybe not quite…
But I will say so because
All is silent, but love in this moment,
And if I am not to love myself I am not to love the earth on which I stand.
Am I not the tree?
Am I not the bird?
Am I not the hoverfly?
Am I not the insect that I almost ate,
Upon plucking a gorse flower
So enticingly filled with a scent of coconut and sweet warm sunlight

I looked into the flower and found another being…

Gorse flowers do not taste as they smell
However often you try, thinking that maybe, this once, they will liken primroses, and taste like….

Flowers.

Maybe I am more like the grass.

It was also alive today, stirred by a slightly different breeze…

Dreams

I don’t like the term ‘bucket list’. Therefore I have not titled this post so, and it will most likely refer to the things I would like to do in my life. Knowing me, it could end up being a post about how much I love nature. Usually my posts gravitate towards that topic.
My dreams are fluid. At the moment I feel so strongly that I would love to do these things but really, in a few years, they might be different. I’m very open to change 🙂 They are also very much not in order, because, let’s be honest, my brain will simply not come up with them all in order and prioritize them perfectly.

1. To be content with whatever happens (even if it’s not happy, not good, just let it happen). Not think that just because I have little money that I cannot be happy.

2. Travel. I want to wander the world, not as a ‘holiday’ as such but to immerse myself in other cultures, experience the natural world fully, spend time with indigenous cultures and get to really know the places I go. Learn lots of languages.

3. Live on my own in the wild for four seasons. This is something I’ve always dreamed of, I don’t know if it’ll ever happen, but even if not for a whole year for some weeks at a time.

4. Learn natural/native skills. I dream of learning to track, to gather wild food, to know how to live completely off the land. It relates to 3 a lot! I also would love to learn about permaculture, building structures, pretty much anything in that area.

5. Write a novel. Even if it’s not published, the experience is something I’d love.

6. Get completely familiar with a camera and make a film (most likely with the DSLR I’m planning to spend my savings on this christmas/solstice), Experiment with different types and styles of photography.

7. Record an album. (Write a wealth of songs first, obviously)

8. Get really good at guitar, piano,cello, and/or voice. I would love to be proficient in at least one instrument!

9. Live in a self sustainable community for a while.

10. Experiment in different types of art.

11. Become an environmental/human rights activist.

12. Live in a tree.

13. Build my own house.

14. Discover more about Irish myths, culture, pre-christian religion, and language.

15. Become fluent in French (And some other languages preferably)

16. Learn how to track really well.

17. Visit every continent in the world.

18. Set up something awesome.

19. If I have kids, unschool them, spend all our time in the woods, and travel the world with them.

20. Make the world a better place!

21. Love life.

22. Be crazy.

23. Grow my hair really long (Random but it’ll probably happen anyway…)

24. Be mindful.

25. Spend many, many nights singing around a fire in the forest…

Daily rambles

I’ve probably often mentioned this, but one of the greatest benefits of unschooling is that I get to spend at least two hours in the place I love the most, the mountains. (Well… Hills. But I consider them mountains, not having ever lived in a country where mountains are actually mountains.)
I live in the city, sadly, but I am blessed by the fact that with just a few minutes in the car I can be in the forest.
You’ve probably guessed just by the name of this blog that yes, I am a tree hugging hippie in many respects. You have guessed correctly.
We usually go on the same walk, but the benefit of that is that you begin to see things more clearly, because you know the area so well. I could probably find my way around the valley with my eyes closed at this stage! The trees where we walk are mostly sitka spruce, a beech wood, and a mixed wood where there are beech, sitka spruce and a sprinkling of ash at the edge. There’s an abundance of hawthorn to the north closer to the farmer’s land, a beautiful elder (elderberry) tree in the ash area, one or two budleia along the first path, birch, sweet chestnut, larch near the car park and a ragged mixture of gorse, heather, moss, and reeds in the area where the spruce were felled some time ago. It’s incredible to watch how that entire area sprang back after being cut, from being piles of grey, bare branches to a flourishing habitat filled with birds and deer. For plants, there is a lot of rosebay willowherb, heather and gorse, foxglove, nettles, coltsfoot, rushes, bracken, countless amounts. There’s plenty of fungi but I am sadly not at all familiar with their names, apart from sulfur tuft (There is a LOT of that around) and fly agaric.
The animal life is also alive, with deer constantly around, fox tracks, ravens, woodpigeons, chaffinches, robins, coal tits, jays, etc. Just this morning we were going up into the beech wood when the chaffinches we had spotted for the last few days were even more lively than usual. We sat quietly for a while and watched them feeding on (We think) the beech mast all over the ground. I’d say there were between 20-40 of them. As we reached the top of the beech wood there were two jays flying between the branches overhead.
There are a thousand stories I could tell about those forests, and I don’t think my keyboard would hold up if I tried to recount them all, so for now I’ll head onwards to other, less computer based activities.
By that I mean carving a handle for my (proudly hand smithed) knife. That’s what it will probably mean for the next week or so until I finish it. Or knitting. I’m knitting a lot lately too.

Peace,
Amy

Natural Dreamcatcher DIY!

I’ve now had this blog for some… two and a half years, methinks? A lot has happened in that time, although I think the last few months has been my longest blogging break yet 😦 But I’m back now!!
It’s been a beautiful summer… And autumn… 20 celcius in September for two and maybe more weeks? Never before. I’m happy, and I think I become more creaitve in the sunshine. It’s like solid happiness for me! I’m out of school too, so I have had some serious crafting/whittling/drawing/music sessions over the past while, and the sun only makes it better!
My mum is starting her Forest School training group soon, and I’m going to be helping out, so I made some dreamcatchers as examples as they are some of the things we will possibly teach the kids to make. However, thinking I was beginning to make some regular natural dreamcatchers didn’t exactly turn out, because yeah, I never do things the same way twice! I think the sunshine was giving me cravings of some brighter colours so I used cloth strips. And you know what, I actually took photos for a tutorial! I have never fully succeeded in doing this before as I usually get too carried away to remember to photograph the important stages…
Enough talking, here’s the tutorial!
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Equipment and materials:
Scissors
A long, bendy stick that will not break or crumple when bent into a circle, preferably willow (I used dogwood, common in Ireland at least) Test around a bit, it might not work first time!
Wool/string of various colours, I like to use earth tones myself.
Feathers, Nuts, any beautiful natural things you can tie string to!
1cm wide strips of cloth, from 1/2 ft to 1 1/2 ft long
Imagination! (Most important)
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Bend your long stick into a circle. It won’t be even, so bend it a bit with your hand.

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Get your wool or string and tie it around the circle where the thick end of the loop stops.

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Wrap your string once around the thicker part and then cross over both to wrap towards the thinner part

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When it is holding together the ends well, pull the string toward the middle of the wrap and create a loop above as shown. Once the loop is made cut the string with a reasonable tail to tie off the loop with (about where my scissors are in the third photo

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Pull that loose end upwards and tie off the loop with the string as shown.
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To begin the weaving, cut a long peice of wool or thread (I was using a different, green one in this) and tie it around the top where the loop is. I used a timber hitch for extra strength but it’s unnessacary if you don’t know it.
Bring this peice of wool to another place on the frame and reaching underneath, pull wool through itself and pull tight (See pictures, it’s difficult to explain!) repeat all around the frame.
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Once you reach the top of the frame again, make the last section a little shorter. Then bring the wool around the first string in the same way as you did the frame, and pull tight until it is in the center of the supporting string. Continue this way until you reach as far as you’d like. If you run out of wool along the way tie another peice on to the end of the previous.
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If you wish, tie some of your natural things to some strings and attach to the base of the dreamcatcher. If you want you can leave it at that but I highly recommend the next step, as, in my opinion, it gives the dreamcatcher a very beautiful and summery feel.
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Take your strips of cloth, and if they are neat and orderly, attack them. Pull them, stretch them, twist them, fray them.
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Next, fold your strip in half and push the top around the dreamcatcher frame. Push the two loose ends through the top and pull tight. Continue around the base of the dreamcatcher as much as you wish, and ta dah!
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If you have any questions, comment or queries please don’t hesitate to use the comments box below! I would be glad to help you!

Everything – Poem

Everything is watching
Always
Always

I sometimes find at those times
When everything just falls into its place,
And the sky becomes one with the earth and it floods
Through the fragile small body that
Holds me,
Maybe.

And my feelings become one with the earth
As tears fall from my eyes down to the roots.
In those times I can’t breathe because
All that is holding me’s so huge,
So beautiful and bright, So bright and huge
And whenever my hands find the earth
Among pavements I wrap my fingers
Round soil and plants just to get a bit closer.

In dark nights I wonder if all that ever mattered
Were the sky and the sea and the stones, but turning my face to the breeze I know,
That maybe they’re nothing at all.

And when I am falling to pieces I place my ears to the bark of the trees
I tell myself that maybe I’m part of the spirit that’s

moving through them

Just turn around please, somebody tell me that all that I am is not lost

That the dust on the breeze and the sky on my fingers can do something more
Than us all
But maybe
Maybe

If the broken down houses and deserted forests can play, melodic, a chord among those once lost
The music of the flames, never stolen, can sing

Sing, Sing!

And all at once it bursts
Oh, the colours of the dawn, the growing of the leaves.
In the brilliant circles lie the real truths

It cannot be described. No.
It is the earth.

Art of Mentoring

I know it’s been a while, it’s been too long, in fact, but I have just been away in Scotland at the Art of Mentoring, again.

Last year I probably obsessed over it, and yes, I’m here to do that again. Honestly, though, I have never been happier in my entire life than I was there. The whole week was so sunny and warm and the people were just so amazing. I thought that it was good last year, and this year was a thousand times better. I have so many amazing, beautiful memories.
For those who don’t know, which I’d say most of you don’t, the Art of Mentoring UK is a week long nature immersion gathering, living in community, and it’s simply amazing. The teens, nicknamed the Kestrels, go off on our own camp and journey for the whole thing. I have made some amazing friends there and for the first time in my life I felt as if I was really a part of something. I could be myself and talk to others in ways I’m hardly ever able to. We were led by some amazing mentors, a good few of them almost our age, and the whole week was filled with happiness, joy and connection. We stayed up all night talking and singing, we played games to heighten our awareness, we talked openly in groups, we learned and shared skills, and really connected to nature. The weather was amazing and so despite not being allowed to bring tents on our journey away it was still lovely to sleep out under the stars (apart from the midges).

It’s been really hard coming home from that. I don’t even want to have to face a year without seeing the people I met there. It feels as if I’ve left home.

Carved leaf pendants

Here are some newer versions of the wooden leaf pendants I blogged about a little while ago.
It’s been a very very very long time since I’ve posted, and I’m sorry! I’ll really try to post more now that I’m free from school for about 18 months! Longest summer holiday ever. I’m so happy to not be going back anytime soon, even though I’ll miss it. Also, I was in Portugal for ten days, so I couldn’t exactly post when I was there, seeing as I was in a house/tent in a rural mountain valley with no internet. It was lovely.
I’m making a lot of these, with maybe the intention of setting up an Etsy to sell them? I just don’t know if anyone would be interested. Would any of you guys be interested? They probably wouldn’t be over €15 so not exactly bank breaking. The backs can also have a custom design on them 🙂
Here’s some I’ve made lately (back and front).
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Wood burned sign

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I just made this little thing with a wood burner.
And a knife.
If I could type a suspicious evil face I would.
And a hand drill.
And some sandpaper.
Maybe a pencil? Not sure.
Anyhow, all dangerous weapons, yaaay.
Maybe not sandpaper though. Just… painful. Not easily resulting in death as the others.

I’m not actually this creepy.

(Add another suspicious smileyface here)

I’m not really sure what I should do with this, maybe put it on a bag of forest tools or somethin’?

Update, Merry Christmas and Drawings!

To all of you followers who still exist… Thank you. I’m not a very good blogger, am I? Well I have some reasons for my absence. Blatant excuses.
It’s so dark here? As soon as I get home it’s too dark to take photos of anythingwhatsoever.
And also, school is cruel to me, and I’m a total procrastinator, so basically, I spend my free time sitting around eating trying to do my homework and failing and not doing my homework and still spending four hours on it. Every night. I hate homework. Homework is my arch nemesis. I’m not violent, but if homework was something I would kill, I would kill it a million times. I would cast homework into the depths of Tartarus to suffer forever with the titans.
Yeah, I don’t really like homework. Or work. Gimme a ukulele, a piano, a wire cutters and wire, a notebook/sketchbook, a pencil, and an unlimited supply of chai and chocolate and send me to the woods for the rest of my life, then I’d be happy, and productive. There are an unlimited supply of curse words in numerous languages that I would use to describe the education system, all of which too vulgar to use here. Ah well…
So yeah, I’ve not been doing much recently, but I’ve been drawing a good bit, of course. I loooooove drawing.
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It’s watching you….

Yeah but I had a good Christmas. I didn’t get too much stuff, thank god. Just the things I actually wanted and needed. Including a HAMMOCK sorry I still can’t handle the fact that this summer I’ll be able to camp hanging between two trees. And I got looooads of books. Good ones. I’m so excited. There’s nature books, some by Tom Brown, basically the most inspiring writer evvvveeeeerrrr, ones about animal folklore, survival guides, and then lots of French books to help me learn, incuding Harry Potter and Greek mythology French books. I’m so excited to read them all, I don’t know where to start.
And oh. Did I mention the chocolate? Thought not. There’s a LOT of chocolate.

 

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Speech on Nature

I had to do this for school, and it got into the school speech competition, which has three people from every year and there’s judges and stuff and I’m kinda terrified… I really wish I’d just said I wouldn’t do it, but it’s tomorrow, so I’m too late… Sorry that this is kinda weird and unedited, but I’ve not got much more to post so yah…

Good afternoon teachers and fellow students. I’m Amy, and I am here today to speak to you about my love of nature, and why I think everybody should love it too.

I would say that I’m pretty well tuned in to nature. I sit in class dreaming about trees. But I’ve been connecting to nature a long time, you see, but connecting with nature isn’t something that you learn, it happens through experience. But sadly, many people never get the chance to try. The way in which I began to discover nature, myself, was through learning about survival, wild food, tracking, and bushcraft, which led me into the woods. Once you begin to learn about the wild, you really can’t stop. For a year, I went out walking in the mountains every morning, rain or shine. I got to know the surrounding hills and forest like they were my back garden.

Nature is where we come from. It is a part of each and every one of us, but it has been torn from our lives. Not many people connect with nature much any more. Sometimes, it feels to me as if soon, everybody in this generation will be ingroant of the world beyond, and if they don’t share any knowledge of nature with their children, thos kids won’t even know nature exists, beyond this scary, wild place outside. Re-connecting this generation to nature may be one of the most important things humans will ever have to do.

In Ireland, sadly, there aren’t many opportunities to learn about nature connection as there are in other places, so I haven’t met any people my age over here who really love nature.

 

Every year in Scotland there’s a gathering from all over the UK and Ireland of people who love nature in the same way as I do. When I was there, I met eleven other teenagers who were so rooted in the natural world, I was pretty much instantly best friends with all of them. We went off into a journey into the cold, wet, muddy wilderness of Scotland, we hiked through a lot of rain, storms, mud, broken tents, lost shoes, getting lost and not being too happy in general, and still it was the best thing I’ve ever done.
I got to know them so well over that week that at the end we could hardly part, because when you connect with like-minded people, when you go through tough journeys and meet your edges together, it’s the most uniting thing you can do with a group of people. We were guided by four adults who were always with us and sometimes by a man who had pretty much inspired my love of nature a few years before with his incredible skills.

There is so much research supporting the fact that children thrive when they are outdoors. If every child had that chance to explore and learn, to play and connect with others and the wilderness, many childhood troubles might be lessened. All our natural insticts to explore, discover and learn would grow and develop. So why don’t schools support this more?

If schools set aside more time for spending in the wild, so much would change. In this day and age, it is vital that children get to experience this, as otherwise they might never be able to learn whether or not they love nature. Everyone should at least have the chance to see how amazing it is out there, how incredible it feels to build a waterproof shelter from the forest floor, to forage for wild food and make a meal from it, to create a fire from nothing but what’s around you in a forest.
If children and teenagers learned to learn by asking questions and investigating them themselves, as I did, rather than sitting in a room, never asking, never questioning, just being talked at, our childhoods would be a lot more enriched and happy.

Our future depends on this earth. We cannot simply live off this planet any more. We must live with the earth, if we are to survive as a race. Humans have treated the world with such disrespect over the last few hundred years, and if we want our children and grandchildren to survive, the first step we must take is to reconnect with our roots in nature.
We have to go backwards to go forwards, and what better way to learn how important the earth is than by connecting with nature?
Thank you very much for listening, and I hope I have inspired you to think a little differently about the natural world.