Moments of Reflection

Changing pace

The days are shortening and we’re slowing down a little, but still have plenty to celebrate and look forward to. This month kicked off with the launch of Voices From the Land in Yorkshire, and will continue with talks and walks, further exhibition hangings and the gathering of stones for a new treefold. We’re also making space and time to reflect and think ahead – a week on Mull to, quite literally, mull things over. Here’s a round-up of what’s going on, and a poem, as usual, to finish. And yes, we did make jam and chutney … something tasty for the year ahead.

harriet and rob

Seeds as Ideas, the Power of the Pause & Curiosity

The Kirby Lecture
October 13, 7-9pm

It’s a real honour to have been asked by Friends of the Lake District to make a presentation about our work for their annual Kirby Lecture this year. Friends of the Lake District have been supporting The Long View over the last couple of years and made it possible for Harriet to become resident Poet in the Meadow in 2015. We are among their patrons, and we continue to enjoy working with them, celebrating the Cumbrian landscape and its heritage – and there is a lot to celebrate. There are also important discussions to be had about caring for and protecting fragile or vulnerable environments and sustaining a vibrant living community in some of England’s most loved countryside.

We’ll be bringing these and other elements together in our presentation,with photographs, poetry and video snippets. There will be behind-the-scenes insights into The Long View, and we’ll talk about the way our work draws us into conversations with environmental scientists, farmers, artists, geographers, ecologists and others who feel passionate about the land. And there will be a riddle to solve, involving a poet in a puddle and a suspended sheep …   If you’d like to come along, it’s easy to book: click this link to the Kirby Lecture and come and join us in Ambleside Parish Hall, October 13th, 7-9pm.

Voices From the Land
Exhibition is Open!

For eighteen months we’ve been getting to know farmers in the Yorkshire Dales, building a collection of recorded interviews and portraits and spending time in yards, on the fells, at shows and at the auction. The smiles and chatter that filled the gallery at the Dales Countryside Museum this weekend at the Private View, and our difficulty getting people to leave at the end of the night, showed us just how valuable a collection like this can be. In the airy, circular gallery, we chatted with families whose faces and stories featured on the walls, and in the vaults beneath the floor, the museum archives contain records from past centuries, and will soon host these new records. There was a palpable feeling of history in the making and a sense of belonging and pride, as well as conversations about the future for traditional farming in the Dales. Several people told us they will be back to take in the collection on the walls at leisure, and to sit and listen in to the voices of farmers talking about what matters to them.

We set out with the ambition of interviewing twenty farmers. Like most projects, though, it grew, and with the help of volunteers and students, the Voices from the Land exhibition brings together 43 farmers, with some children as well. It also includes stunning pencil drawings and artwork by two volunteers who wanted to record what they saw in this way (Steve Mason and Rachel Waller) and a selection of original work by Marie Hartley, the artist whose dedication to recording farming and life in the Yorkshire Dales provided the impetus for the Museum to be set up.

If you can get along to Hawes, the Dales Countryside Museum is open daily (10am – 5pm) until December 22nd. Next year the exhibition will be open from February 1st until March 26th. If you can’t make it, you can check out the portraits and farmers’ stories on the Voices From the Land website, where you’ll also find blogs and a gallery of images.

Taking the Long View

As autumn has been forcing a change in the colour of the trees, we’ve been making plans for the last of the three treefolds and we can now reveal its location. treefold:north will be set in Glencoyne Park to the north of Glennridding. From the site there’s a breathtaking view across Ullswater to the fells at its southern end, and if you look behind you and up the fell, you can see the Glencoyne Pine.

The treefold will stand a few yards from The Ullswater Way, on the section of the path that runs between Glencoyne and Aira Force. treefold:north will be built using stone that was flooded out of Caudale beck and strewn across fields during Storm Desmond in December 2015 (pile of stones pictured above). With help from the National Trust, who own Glencoyne Park, and Sam and Candida Hodgson who farm here, we’ll be moving stones from the backside to the treefold site, ready to start construction in November. There will be a drop-in day during the build, so watch this space for dates! (And if you’re new to this newsletter, follow these links to find out more about treefold:centre and treefold:east)

Looking Ahead … 

Taking a sneak preview to November, the main event that we’re looking forward to is the Tree Charter Launch. November 6th marks the 800th year, to the day, since the creation of the Charter of the Forest, and there will be pomp, ceremony and celebration at Lincoln Castle. We’ve been supporting the Tree Charter campaign and feel pretty excited about joining with others to mark a momentous occasion. There will be a lot going on, including the unveiling of a vast tree pole carved out of oak. As Poet in Residence for the Tree Charter, Harriet has written short poems that are, right now, being carved into 15-foot high poles that will be located across England. Lincoln Castle will have the Tree Charter Champion Pole, and the words carved into this pole will be the opener for the Tree Charter itself. Woodcarver Simon Clements is keeping busy: there will be poles in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well. Other news on them, and what’s going on in National Tree Week, will come in our November newsletter.

Thank you!

Thank you for taking the time to read this, for those of you who have been along to our talks and events and have been in touch, and to the many people who have helped us to bring our ideas to fruition, and who continue to inspire us.

Our next newsletter will come in November. If you’d like to keep up with our news more regularly, the best way is via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – the coloured links to these pages are at the end, just scroll down. And if you think someone you know might like to hear of our work, then please forward on this newsletter.

As has become the custom we will sign off with a poem. In the process of meeting farmers across the Yorkshire Dales, we discussed a wide range of topics to build a record of farming and landscape: we gathered views on family histories, sheep, walls and barns, prices at the marts, birdlife, quad bikes, dogs and money, cattle, trees, meadows and more. Alongside questions relating to farming practices and landscape features, we asked each farmer a are personal question: ‘How does it feel to walk across this land?’. Harriet has woven the answers into a poem, below.

With best wishes for the autumn,

harriet and rob

How does it feel?

how does it feel
just being out on top, first light, and it’s quiet
as clouds tug shadows over fells and darken walls,
the thousand-mile march of hand-placed stones,
signatures of men and women you’ve known
                                                                        in this small part of the world

how does it feel
when the curlew names the spring and the sun creeps in,
to walk out and see lambs laiking, flowers prove the end of winter,
good mule gimmers, the tups and yows whose bloodlines
carry hopes and dreams and a black-white-silverness that hits you
                                                                        so you can’t stop looking

how does it feel
gales and rain, and sometimes snow, the weather in your face
day after day, and then sun, grouse lecking in a feathered parade,
to see a fox slink across a field and not take your lambs, the pleasure
of getting through when things go wrong, owls fledging in the barn
                                                                        it takes your breath away

how does it feel
to gather in your flock and watch your dogs work fast and sure,
this land mapped by smell and paw, and each year, lambs saved,
calves born – you work hard, too hard maybe, but that’s how it is
and each time you go away, you turn back up the dale, grateful
                                                                        to be home again

how does it feel
to see the land improve, to hold a prize from Tan Hill, Moorcock,
Muker Show, the back end sales, when the animals reward your care;
there’s a duty, a privilege – our forefathers made this place,
and we’re hefted, heafed, hoofed, feel it in our bones
                                                                        just being alive, and the beauty