Back from the wildness – and carrying it with me

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Posted on April 29, 2013

Well, that was some week. I am only just back, so this will be only a brief overview. The week was so packed with personal insights, wonderful writing by other women, animated debates about environment, place and wildness, fierce weather, delicious food ... it’s hard to know where to start!

Time stretched out – five days could have been fifteen – and space cocooned us in a rich cauldron of writing, thinking, discussing, cooking, eating, walking, drinking, fire stoking, drawing, laughing. And howling (could you really gather thirteen wild women together and not get a howl? Really?)

I began by acquainting myself with the immediate surroundings and wandered into the woods, a plantation of pines. With the raging wind swaying the trees and blasting all sounds of birds away from the sky it felt menacing, cold, stark. I came to a bright white birch, reaching up to the space between the dark pine tops, and felt instantly reassured: this would be a week of discoveries.

Silver Birch, Marking the Thresholds
Silver Birch, Marking the Thresholds

So much writing has been shared I feel as if I have been in many different corners of the UK, and beyond; I have taken a spider’s eye view, scuffed with the clouds over high mountains, learnt of rescuing sheep from snow drifts, ecological crisis points, educational projects, agricultural policies, wild art forms, the confused tracks of bumble bees in cities, myths and archetypes. The standard has been amazing. What a pleasure to sit around the fire at night, and listen.

We were joined by a host of animals in the open spaces around us. Hares, hen harriers, crows, buzzards, larks, curlew, peewits ... and it was great to have women among us who not only knew a huge amount about the birds, but could imitate them at will. And we brought our own wild natures with us. Thirteen women (throw away your superstitions ... there was nothing spooky about it) of diverse backgrounds, opinions and ages, each one of us eager to explore and express the essence of being part of this planet that we care about. There was never a cross word. It has been an amazing privilege to learn so much from the women I met, and to have the time, space and encouragement to develop my own writing.

Full Moon Rising Full Moon Rising

I know that the seeds sewn during the week will bear fruit and flower long into the future, for me, for the other women, and maybe for other people who come into contact with us and/or the words we write. The course itself, skilfully imagined and put together by Sharon Blackie (from Earthlines) and Roselle Angwin, and held at Arvon's Moniack Mhor, is so much more than a course about writing. It has been about finding a clarity of voice, exploring issues of place, environment, self; about connecting with other women in a growing community of writers. It’s the first of what I hope will be a long line of over-the-bone-singing.

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