‘and they would pause and look upwards, and breathe through wide nostrils, and all day it was wide and firm in god’s gaze and open:
tussock and turf, long lake, reed-sigh, silence and space, pathway and flower furnace banked up and breathing.’
(peter redgrove – the god trap – turret, 1966)

sky, willow, duckweed, fen water, reed (roydon fen, norfolk 2012)


project: observations within an ancient wetland
royden fen, norfolk
dates: spring/summer 2012 and autumn/winter 2013
field assistant: beverly burden

early morning

the plank walk, two sleepers wide, extends line-thin into the fen. a dark wiry snake-in-the-grass
laden, we walk through the pin-point bird calls and the whisper breeze-wave of grasses
now and then the air piles up and the hushing of reeds rises to a high electro-static drone
the water level is unusually high this month, under our weight the planks give slightly in places, flooding over
wetland trees ahead make our way appear more solid than the squelching of peat reveals
though deep and dense, the upwelling ground-waters find passage through this strata
constantly they draw minerals from a buried store to the life layer
the petrol spill glint of iron rich salts refracting in the glancing sun
a by-product, shed by the jostling ground-hum of bacteria, billions upon billions
i do not know what we seek, nothing i feel, beyond humble witness to this ancestral environment
an intuitive response to this cyclic abundance
the human richness of a season-tuned life, barely visible, almost lost
a way of toil, strong backs and unpolluted air through broad lungs
the light-hearted song of the forager dwindles distant in our memory
mud feet and fire and the distant lull of the high-ground bell
this sky is intimate, like a soft ceiling that hardly presses out the chalky blue
and now we hear the swoosh of distant cars moving on the main highway
going somewhere, somehow lost

fragment 4.4 – hydrologies

lateral fen hydrology
rills and flushes
ladders and laggs
waterlogged floodplains
the upwelling of base-rich
or base-poor groundwaters
the aerobic or anaerobic chemistry
of mires and matts
the biology of blanket bogs
thickened with duck weed
their surfaces refracting colours
of iron rich bacteria
above the whispering reed-heads
water-filled willows bloom
and lifted in dry thermals
birds flock and swarm
through rich insect clusters

meniscus #1

meniscus #2

meniscus #3

reed #1

salix hydrochory

salix hydrochory #1

salix hydrochory #2

salix hydrochory #3