Category / The Clearing / Essay / The Clearing

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  • Quartz by Linda Cracknell

    In the summer of 2016 I part-rode, part-pushed my bicycle, loaded with a tent and some art materials, across the narrow waist of the Udal peninsula on the Hebridean island of North…

  • My Rock by Tim Dee

    In hospital, I was often asked to rank my pain on a scale of one – not so bad – to ten – deadly. I answered, thinking of the Avon Gorge near my home, its savage gash of limestone perpetually wounded by a muddy river.

  • Entanglement by Christopher Nicholson

    There came the point when the secateur blades were within an inch of the antlers, which in the poor light seemed as grey as the honeysuckle. Then the roebuck had had enough. In one convulsive movement it flung itself into the air and broke free. It hurtled away, crashing downhill, disappearing into the darkness of the trees.

  • In Praise of Dandelions by Gerard Fosse

    I remove an individual dandelion seed and let it drop onto my notebook. I keep plucking, and ten minutes later I have a pile of 82 seeds (or 83, but I’m not counting again) wavering across the pad in a soft froth.

  • Made in England by Fran Edgerley

    She loves the stories hidden in the landscape – particular hedges, the small paths that signify cross-breeding links, farming styles, a new kerbside or a route home. To me Dorothy Hartley is a fellow student following the complex web of how the physical, natural world translates to our daily and cultural material experience.

  • Shepherd’s Watch by Melanie Viets

    I slip my hand deep inside the ewe. Reach in turn for one front hoof then bent leg. My fingers meet the inner wall of the ewe’s womb, her muscles ribbed in symmetry with the ridges of the ram’s horns.

  • The Signless Signpost by Peter Reason

    As the water poured over the sills we could see it in several different forms: hanging just above the top sill, oily blue, darkly mirroring the sky; falling in a smooth sheet down the face of the weir, sparkling with light; breaking into cataracts that fell like braids; tumbling chaotically over the next sill; and so on down.

  • Dear Vodafone by Martin Maudsley

    I’m writing to you about a tree. A pine tree, perhaps a hundred years old, maybe a little older, that until yesterday stood on a hill at the edge Bridport in Dorset. It’s a tree that you felled yesterday to make way for a new mobile phone mast. I’ll tell you the story as it happened, and at the end I’ll ask you to tell me a story in return.

  • To the pantheon of charismatic animals, can we add another? By Hilary Macmillan

    If you are lucky enough to witness roosting horseshoe bats, you may see them gently swinging to and fro, rather like a gymnast about to start a routine on the high bars. They have switched on their directional sonar and are detecting your whereabouts. They know you are there.

  • Oak Grove by Seán Lysaght

    Trees have character, just like animals and people. Some have grown tall and rangy in a rush for elevation; others have a more rounded crown and are already strongly branched. When I am alone among the trees, I often stand under my favourite, a fourteen-footer that spreads its tent of foliage over a young tree’s muscular limbs, and casts a cosy, yellowish gloom of light around me. Seán Lysaght on watching trees grow.

  • A Sense of Wonder by Philip Hoare

    ‘We no longer camp as for a night’, the American philosopher, Henry David Thoreau wrote, ‘but have settled down on earth and forgotten heaven’. Philip Hoare on reconnecting to the earth, the sea and the tangible universe.

  • To Cradle a Moth by Abi Andrews

    “In its light I know where the world is.” A powerful piece by Abi Andrews on our ‘small communions’ with the natural world.