Deer on the Heath (Part Two)

The rut is now over, and the heath is quiet. The deer are, of course, still there, but the stags are no longer calling in the twilight hours. The mists have crept in, the air is chill, and the days are short. And yet, there is beauty all around.

Walking with the Ancestors

New video now up on my YouTube channel!

Autumn is here…

Autumn is here, though it’s a bit of a strange autumn. The leaves on the birch trees turned golden a couple of weeks ago, and now most of them have fallen to cover the forest floor in a beautiful golden light. But the oak, the ash and the beech trees are only now just starting to turn, and there’s still a lot of green about. The heather on the heath, which should be a brilliant purple colour, is slowly coming back to life after the rains. It was such a dry summer, that even out in the arid conditions of the heathland, things were dying before they had a chance to come into their own.

But it is definitely autumn, and you can smell it on the wind. That scent is so unmistakeable. It’s hard to describe: it’s a lovely, earthy smell so different from the green scent of summer, or the blossom scent of spring. The winds have ravaged these lands and all others across the country, stripping the trees of their colourful leaves before their time, and branches and fallen trees everywhere. Getting out in between the gales and the heavy rainstorms is a real gamble, so bringing your wet weather gear is essential.

It’s not been an easy year, not just for us humans, but for a lot of nature in this area. Though some species did well during the lockdown, many others have suffered from the lack of rain and a drought for two summers in a row. The hawks have been plentiful, and the deer have managed to keep their numbers up, but the plant life has suffered, and whether there will be enough food to keep them all strong throughout the winter remains to be seen.

And yet, despite all this, my heart sings merely at the thought of autumn. For it is my absolute favourite season, though here in the UK it is far too short. We don’t get the vibrant colours that I grew up with in Canada, but the feeling of nature winding down, of that last pause before dusk, the late afternoon sunlight shining through the clouds, the smell of woodsmoke on the wind – it all fills me with such peace. Gone is the harsh overhead sun, and instead it is dancing, playing through the turning leaves to fall upon the forest floor in dappled light.

The deer are gathering in larger and larger herds, and soon they will be all together out on the heath. The stags have begun to call, and it is the beginning of the deer rut. There are two main players this year, the dark stag who has been King for the last few years, and a new one, dappled and still young, but big and strong. I’m sure there will be some furious matches as they lock antlers in the evening’s failing light.

The foxes have been calling, and visiting us in the night, making their weird cries and strange sounds, or just padding silently down the path in the moonlight. The owls are hooting in the trees, and the pheasants are trumpeting in the night shadows. Hunting season has begun for them, and so we find all those lucky enough to have escaped coming round our way, to find sanctuary amidst the few houses here on the edge of the village.

Autumn is a time to pause, to stop, and to reflect on the bounty that we have collected throughout our labours in the year. Some things may have come to fruition, some may not, and some may still remain dreams, to foster once again through the long winter months until the sun’s strengthening light encourages us to manifest these dreams in the light of day. It is a time for long walks and enjoying the weather, in rain or sunshine. We feel the growing darkness all around us, and we welcome that even as we bask in the last of the golden light. Thoughts are turning inwards, hearts and minds becoming reflective. It is a time to take stock, to see what still needs to be done before the winter’s arrival, and what we need to make it through the cold time of icy frosts and winds from the north.

Take this moment, and enjoy it, for it doesn’t last long. Pause, listen, and learn from nature about the cycles of life, death and regeneration. Find out where you fit in the grand scheme of things, where you stand as a contributing member of your ecosystem. And dance in the light of autumn, feeling its ethereal and brief moments in time deep within your soul.

(Photos taken in Rendlesham Forest, © Joanna van der Hoeven 2020)

If you enjoyed this post, please consider supporting me on my Patreon page.

The Song of Autumn

This is my favourite season, and I’ve created a video to try and capture that moment. I’ve been filming all last week, and also making music as featured on the video. More details in the video’s information on YouTube 🙂

Test Flight on the Heath!

Today we gave it a few test flights on the heath, to try and learn some finesse with the controllers and camera. I can’t wait to shoot more videos! A HUGE thank you to my supporters at Patreon, you have given me wings (or propellers)!

Learning to fly

Early Winter’s Light

This time of year, the frosty mornings give us such a beautiful display of light and shadow, of magic and mystery. And the fact that the sun doesn’t rise until 8am right now means you can have a relatively decent lie-in on a Saturday morning, and still get out pre-dawn for some great shots 🙂

Pre-dawn's light

The freshness in the air, the silence and most of all, the solitude is just wonderful. It’s as if you are the only person in the world, and are completely at one with all nature.

A Frosty Contemplation

The hard ground underfoot, which is usually so soft (it’s all sand on the heath) makes a nice change.  It’s different, and though we don’t get much snow here so close to the sea, you can feel it still underfoot, and hear it whispering in the early morning’s light: the Song of Winter.

The Song of Winter

It’s there in the beams of sunlight that play through the branches and dance in the clouds. It’s there in your soul, waiting to be heard.

Greeting the Sun

And so we stop, and take a moment to listen to our own hearts.

Listen to your Heart

And we know that a world of wonder awaits us, if we just open our eyes to see the beauty that lies all around us.

The Awen (Inspiration)

And we carry that memory with us, though the road be long, though the nights are dark, though the shadows creep in.

The Frosty Path to Dawn

Here is where we find ourselves, in the stillness of the year. When the fields lie fallow, and the birdsong is muted, we take a moment to hear our own souls.

The Fallow Field

And we know that we are truly blessed.

The Magic of Melting Frost

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please do consider becoming a Patron on my Patreon Page. I’m hoping to get better camera equipment for photography and video next year, and hopefully a drone that will enable me to get beautiful overheads of the North Sea Coast and the heathland where I live. I’m already dreaming of the photos and videos that I can put together with this! x