Sometimes, it is good to look at things from a different perspective. This can mean many things, but I mean here that it is good to look at things from a different viewpoint or angle. In photography, this can be extremely valuable in getting an unusual image from a familiar item or setting, perhaps by concentrating on a little detail, on patterns or textures, colours and shapes, or photographing them from an unusual angle. I love to get down on the ground to get pictures of bluebells, for example, from below.
However, this weekend, we got the chance to see Betty’s Wood from a different perspective. When planning the project, we were able to draw out and plan out on paper what we wanted to see. We planned ponds, meadows, rides and glades. We planned thickets and clumps, new areas for coppicing as well as areas to become successional high forest in future. We planned areas of cover for wildlife, and areas of wide open sunshine for flowers and insects.
Then we had to mark this all out on the ground and plant to the plan, which we did in February 2011. All of the time since then, we have been working on the ground to make the plan come to fruition. Mowing the meadows, watering the trees in the drought, repairing damage, replacing lost and stolen trees, sorting out the ponds so that they hold water and provide good habitat, cloning willows from the canal bank to form new coppice for the future.
It is possible to see part of the wood from the top of Pooley Mound. But we have never actually seen Betty’s Wood from above before, so have never really seen how well we translated the plan into reality on the ground. We had permission to walk along our neighbour’s hedge and up to a tumbledown barn on the top of the hill, but have never done so (we’ve never had time!). Labouring away in our little field, we weren’t really aware of how high up this viewpoint is, and therefore of the potential it has for monitoring the progress of our little wood.
So it was that we walked up past a huge rabbit warren, in the lee of the hedge, to the pile of stones on top of the hill by the M42…
…and turned round. Wow! There it was. There was our drawing, made reality on the landscape. Sloping down towards the ditch in front of us, facing towards us, there were our meadows, our hedge, our curvy lines of trees, our thickets, our clumps, our new areas of coppice and our ponds. From above, just like the drawing, almost like art on the landscape.
It is a privilege to change a landscape, something that so few of us ever get the chance to do (at least to do directly). Our perspective had become very narrow, working away on our own little patch, and never really looking up, realising the potential of, or need for, taking a new point of view. Too narrow. Without taking that short walk, we would never have realised that we were truly painting with trees.
A lesson learned – it is always wise to take another viewpoint and see things from a different perspective. You may get a very nice surprise. A walk we will definitely be taking again!