Begin afresh, afresh, afresh*
I had hoped to set forth this week, sketchbook in hand, to capture a pocket of the Waveney Valley that I have discovered just a couple of miles from home. My vision of sitting out in the warmth of May sunshine was dampened by cold, relentless rain and wind, but its discovery has filled me with excitement at the prospect of what is to come.
So instead of drawing out in the landscape, I have instead been thinking and plotting and planning about what to do next.
It has been the most dismal May in terms of weather. There has been no single dry day and yet the continuous rain has resulted in the most exuberant green lushness, quite unlike the usual parched Norfolk landscape.
I have managed brief walks, and have been soaked several times, tricked by the glorious cloudscapes and have, on a couple of occasions retreated to drawing from my car again, though it is not the same as sitting among the fields.
Click on the link below to see the aspen trees as the storms skirt round me.
Sketch made with indigo drawing stone
The spot I have discovered, I caught sight of it while I was searching for a line of old oaks that I had been told bordered the road on the way out of the village, and lay just outside Wortham, in Magpie Green. But it wasn’t the oaks that captured my imagination, but rather a striking stand of trees that lay at the foot of the valley, amidst old meadows, and that could be reached by a sweeping footpath swathed with billowing cow parsley.
A pair of roe deer run across as I sit drawing
From their unexpected profile, I wasn’t certain what they were at first, but the streak of silver that lay at their heart, revealed them to be aspen trees.
I made a couple of sketches from the car, but at the weekend walked down to meet them, and looking up into their elegant canopy that shivered in the wind and drizzle, I longed to return on a finer day to make drawings. I pinched a small branch and took it back home to draw in the comfort of my studio until I could return.
One imagines that this small, precious area of the Waveney Valley that I have been exploring over recent months, will remain as it has done for centuries. But watching the ongoing loss of habitat caused by the construction of HS2 and the much nearer proposed road link in the Wensum Valley, near Norwich, where an area of ancient woodland is threatened, it makes one doubly aware that such places should never be taken for granted.
My growing love for my home patch has given me such joy and solace over the past months that I have decided to embark on a project of recording this place. It is rather an amorphous project as yet, fuelled by my desire to capture the landscape and wildlife in drawings, painting and prints, and I shall simply see what unfolds as I progress.
I hope to be posting more regularly here to share what I discover and do hope that you will join me as soon as the weather allows me to venture forth again.
The trees are coming into leaf Like something almost being said; The recent buds relax and spread, Their greenness is a kind of grief. Is it that they are born again And we grow old? No, they die too. Their yearly trick of looking new Is written down in rings of grain. Yet still the unresting castles thresh In fullgrown thickness every May. Last year is dead, they seem to say, "Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.”