The weather has been kind to us. The mornings are frosty and bright gradually giving way to sunshine. We work in the woods or inside, but the lure of the good weather keeps one outside much of he time.I have taken to going through the Athena Wood bit by bit cutting ivy that is choking the young oak trees. When I first came here more than twenty years ago this area was mostly blackthorn thicket. Now there are only a few thorn bushes left as the oaks press up through them and create a high canopy that takes all the light. However, at the time of year, before the leaves have come on the oaks, when you look up, the only green you see is from the copious ivy that has taken advantage of the situation. Some intervention can save a lot of trees. At a later date we shall have to make a selection among the trees but at this stage we shall cut back the ivy and give the trees a season so as to see which are healthy. There is nothing very democratic about a forest. The strongest survive. Nature is like that, over-producing and then weeding out. We shall work with the natural process, but also with a view to enhancing the attractiveness of this already beautiful wood. Each of the goddesses has a domain here and each is beautiful in its own manner.
We had a pleasant visit from Annette - the relationship between Eleusis and Oasis is a happy one, but Oasis is short of people at the moment and they are considering various options that might boost their population. Here at La Ville au Roi (Eleusis) we are also open to various possibilities and wondering what the future may hold. At present we are a group of three to which other visitors come from time to time, especially in the warmer months. Last winter I was here on my own. Potentially, Eleusis could become a community of more people, but we do not know if this will happen. It is a possibility that we discuss from time to time. Often in the past La Ville au Roi became a Buddhist practice community for much of the June-July period. That might also continue top happen. It is certainly a good place for it. If we go back ten years or more, then it was quite common that in the early summer we had periods of Buddhist practice and in the later summer, especially August, a more holiday atmosphere. Will this happen this year? It is less than two years since I took over and changed the image of the place so we are clearly still in an experimental period and it is difficult yet to read the signs. If we stay as we are, that is quite satisfactory, but one knows that things rarely continue unchanged for long and in this situation small changes in the population can have a big effect upon the community. It is very noticeable that the property, especially the land, is in better shape than at this time of year in the past and we are delighting in these developments.
- Carpets of veronica, violet and celandine.
- Young oak trees striving up into the sun high above
- "Clifford," the local white chested buzzard wheeling in the blus sky or sitting on his favourite dead tree at the south end of our garden
- Old oak trees, gnarled and twisted, sometimes hollow, standing like giants
- Our favourite bold robin and his coy wife on his perch in the chestnut tree, or dashing across to the elm saplings, dropping briefly, en route, for some tit-bit in the grass
- Many young walnut trees, looking rather exotic
- Hawthorn that has spread through some of the open spaces - looking forward to May blossom
- The bamboo stand bending in the wind
- This year is a good year for dead nettle (see picture) which, despite its unfortunate name, looks rather fine with small purple heads in among the grass
- So many birds: great tits, coal tits and sparrows, martins starting to appear, formations of geese high overhead, various members of the thrush family, pheasant, and even, rarely, a hoopoe.
- The moon, currently just over half full, shining down silver light in the second half of the night.
- The sun rising through mist, a different kind of silver, struggling to be seen above the horizon of trees in the east.
- Frost on the bench in the morning, that I wipe away so as ti sit in my dressing gown and watch the sun rising.