In my hand is a tuft of palest-grey wool, picked up from a stony path on a day when frost still lay in the hedge’s lea, and clumps of old man’s beard twinkled in the low winter sun.
The fibres are short, crimped. Too short for easy spinning. They are from a sheep bred for tables, not wardrobes.
Once upon a time, sheep in the fields here, in their sheepcots on the wolds, were the source of fortunes. Whole villages grew from the value of their wool; the sheep known as Cotswold Gold, their wool exported throughout Europe. Now, we import softer wools from Merino sheep in Australia, South America, South Africa, and for many British sheep farmers it is cheaper to burn fleeces than to sell them.
I will carry this scrap of wool in my coat pocket for weeks, until it meshes with the moss and lichen that live there customarily, and I leave it on a rotting log in a forest. An offering to – whom? A nesting bird.
Amelia Hodsdon is a writer and editor living in Gloucestershire. She recently completed an MA in nature & writing at Bath Spa University and is the new writer-in-residence at Walk Listen Create. She likes to explore the ‘why’ of a place, preferably on foot.
‘Wool’ was created as part of Davina Quinlivan’s Writer in Residency programme for Quay Words (Literature Works) in 2023. The workshops focused on migration, wool and the environment.Read more here.
Photograph by Dominic Winkel via Pixabay.