Bone Memory: New Year Ancient Yearnings

Bone Memory: New Year Ancient Yearnings

Communing with the ancestors

After a much needed long Sunday lie in, and despite a biting north east wind, I needed to freshen up before breakfast. Clad in my old trusty duffle coat, I climbed high up to my favourite field, that has views over Torbay, the River Dart and to the hills of Dartmoor. I took a cup with me to drink of the crystal clear water from a babbling stream on the way, small birds were doing the same and fluttered about with much excitement as my sleepy self-was beginning to feel. I walked up to the hollow of a chestnut tree I know and splashed my face with its fresh pure water, the chill stung my skin and I did not indulge further.

Bone Memory

Babbling Stream.

Squirrels were having fun chasing one another about the little wood and clambering up the nearest tree on spotting me. Emerging out onto pasture land, rabbits were looping about before hopping back into the hedgerows out of my view, buzzards were circling above with purpose, my presence of little interest to them, my face still felt pain from the cold water and wind, but I felt alive and energised, the weak winter sun and clean clear air soon brought the circulation back to my cheeks. We are lucky here in South Devon, in the generally mild climate, I was able to pick half a dozen varieties of salad ingredients, young dandelions, plantains, sheep sorrel, gorse flowers and three corner garlic the provisions gathered and exercise taken, I headed home for breakfast.

Bone Memory

Top field.

Breakfast came mainly out of my foraging trunk as do many of my meals, treasures from a year of walks and encounters with nature, each preserve has a memory associated with it, a connection with place and time a record of the edible biodiversity in our landscape.

Bone Memory


So breakfast was Chestnut puree gathered from the little wood near my home in November, on rye bread toast with seabuckthorn jam from the coastline near my dear Mothers rest home, dried apple rings from an abandoned orchard and a tea from seabuckthorn leaves, legend has it that they were fed to Pegasus.

Supper came from the trunk also, nut patties, made from hazelnuts gathered from along a cycle path and dried seaweeds and nettles added flavour and goodness, a mixed salad from my morning walk and hawthorn ketchup has becomming my hedgerow staple. For dessert a bowl of cherries from a harvest in June, an enormous tree I had discovered near my dear late fathers nursing home, I remember the crows cheeky craw craw, at my attempts to jump up and gather cherries from the lower branches it seemed to have caused them great mirth or so I thought. So as I eat, landscape and story accompany each meal. I am nourished with nutrients from my home territory and a feeling of being indigenous to place (albeit with way way more to learn) envelopes me.

Bone Memory

Photography is my diary and a new year is already showing reminders of past finds and differences, as climatic conditions change and weather patterns alter.

The love I feel for natural ways is deeply ingrained and the best description I have come across is “bone memory” – something I learnt from the great storyteller Martin Shaw – an ancestral knowledge that is part of our DNA and when awakened feels familiar, not strange; heritage from our ancestors who would have lived and survived with great knowledge, deeply connected to the incredible dynamics of life on Earth. My dilemma is ‘a little is not enough’, as modern life divorces me/us with its asphalts and boundaries, labour and money, privatised land, where I a human, am the trespasser, but the rabbit, the squirrel, the buzzard are not. Why have we allowed ourselves to be deprived of our rightful inheritance… life on the land? I wonder why I cannot fully wander.

I hope you liked coming on my ramble – it is neither professional nor polished, but earthy, real and heartfelt and I hope your own wanderings bring you connections and revelations.

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For more hints and tips, come and like my Facebook page A Wild Relationship. I would also love you to share your discoveries with me. ~ Paula

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Bone Memory: New Year Ancient Yearnings
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Bone Memory: New Year Ancient Yearnings
Communing with the ancestors. After a much needed long Sunday lie in, and despite a biting north east wind, I needed to freshen up before breakfast. Clad in my old trusty duffle coat, I climbed high up to my favourite field, that has views over Torbay, the River Dart and to the hills of Dartmoor.
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Healthy Tree Frog
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