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Magical May

May is a magical month in Devon. Named after the Greek goddess Maia who is associated with fertility and growth, in the Northern hemisphere we enjoy the transition from spring to summer. The days are getting longer, the sun warmer and a sense of renewal and growth. May starts with the pagan festival Beltane, with rituals such as

the lighting of bonfires. dancing around the Maypole and celebrating the abundance of the earth. Rebirth, renewal, the interconnectedness of humans and nature were in the forefront of my mind as made my way up onto Dartmoor, looking to reconnect with the rhythms of the natural world and feel that deeper sense of belonging to the earth that Sharon Blackie writes about.

I wanted to explore somewhere new and headed for Emsworthy Mire near Haytor Rock.

It is a nature reserve, with plenty of opportunities for photography: views across the moor, a deserted farm house and in May hosts of bluebells! The weather was kind too, and I as I walked alongside the drystone wall, I could hear a cuckoo calling. A joyful and rare sound. I sat on a rock and breathed in the view.

I had recently been on a writing workshop where I was introduced to the idea of Thrutopianism, a term coined by Rupert Read and Manda Scott in their book "This Civilisation is Finished: Conversations on the End of Empire - and What Lies Beyond."

Rupert argues that: “Thrutopia is about getting through what is coming responsibly, transformatively in the best way we can.” A vision of radical change, creating a better future through environmental activism, through stories of hope and possibilities. We have to live more sustainably, equitably, and in harmony with the natural world.

Dartmoor National Park is looking to the future with a range of conservation projects, such as work to preserve peatlands, flood management, and nature projects. These bring hope. Emsworthy Mire became a nature reserve in 2012. Andrew Taylor writes: "The mire itself is a magical place full of cotton grass and flowering bog bean, famed for its cuckoos and rare marsh fritillary butterflies. It’s surrounded by a mosaic of bluebell fields, gnarly woodlands, rough pastures, streams and ponds. The reserve occupies the valleys of the Becka and Snodderbottom Brooks, and its rocky upper slopes offer amazing panoramas of a dozen of Dartmoor’s majestic granite tors."

I sat down amongst the host of bluebells and absorbed myself capturing their colour and shape in the sunshine:

Realising that time was pressing I wandered on down the hill, and came across a deserted farmhouse, which with its orangey-red roof was so photogenic! Many photographers have captured this view, how to do it differently? And looked for interesting compositions, using the walls and the shapes of the trees to provide framing and perspective:

My eye was then caught by the beautiful shadows and shapes of the stones in the mossy walls:

Reluctantly, I turned and headed back up the hill. On my way back to the car, I noticed this tree. It had clearly been blown over at some point, but some of the roots were still embedded in the ground and providing sustenance. Walking past I then noticed that one branch had also rooted itself. The resilience of nature, finding ways to adapt and thrive even when it is hard. Humankind has to do the same.

Read more about the wonders to be found at Emsworthy Mire here. I am excited to go again in June, hopeful to spot butterflies, moths and dragonflies among the wildflowers. Watch this film to see what I might encounter.

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