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As I write this I’m at work. Gone is the bookshop. Work now is in a big office building on the industrial estate close to my home. People look at me gone out when I tell them I’ve changed jobs, I think because they have a romantic idea of what it was like in the shop. They didn’t see the unpaid overtime or the long hours or the heavy lifting up and down stairs. Or the fact that it’s corporate owned. I think people imagined that it would be like working in ‘Black Books’ (a UK based comedy). But it wasn’t.
So the new job is better but still, it’s work, and not for myself. I keep catching myself daydreaming out of the window. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been gone for hours, though the reality is just minutes. I’ve always been a daydreamer. Perhaps it offers a freedom of sorts.
It takes me around five minutes to walk to work, ten if I linger across the field, wishing that I could just stay there for hours instead. It’s a large stretch of land, the only open green space close to the council estate where I live. Soon the council are going to build on that too. My home is due for demolition as the council plan to ‘regenerate’ the area. Local people don’t care, I think the majority of them have fallen for the council’s lies that the community, one of the poorest in the whole town, will benefit from the plans. How we’ll benefit is beyond me, especially when even more land is taken from us, or when the number of new houses built isn’t enough to cover the number of homes that are due to be demolished. But people don’t want to hear what I have to say on the topic. They look shocked when I say I’m happy where I am. I mean, unless it’s a cottage in the woods, I’m really not interested in going anywhere, least of all to a new built home (they don’t make them like they used to. Instead they are boxy little homes with paper thin walls and small neat lawns).
I’ve taken to spending my lunch break walking around the field, partly because it feels so strange to be sat down for seven hours a day and partly because I just like being outside and every time I do I can’t help but feel sadness to know that it will all change. And not for the better, whatever the council may say.
They’re going to build 300 homes on some of this land. With the rest, or so they claim, they are going to create sports pitches and even a wildlife area. A fecking wildlife area! As if the wildlife isn’t already there. As if it won’t be displaced by the building work. As if a path through a border of wild flowers is enough.
But I didn’t come here today to bemoan to you all what you already know – that things change, that those in power do not care for the wants or needs of us, the planet nor anything upon it, except for their own greed. You already knew that else you wouldn’t be here, right?
Instead I wanted to tell you a little about this land here. About what it means to connect to a place. About how the wild can be found, even in the most unlikeliest of places.
I always say that nature abhors a vacumn, and as an avid gardener, I know just how easily nature reclaims back what was once taken, if given chance and opportunity, and this field shows that, more than any other place I can think of in the town, perhaps besides down by the scrap yard where wild datura grows.
The field sits between the housing estate and the ever increasing industrial estate. I’ve written a little about this area before, and you can read about that here. I’ve grown up on this land. We played here as kids, all of the kids from the estate. I walk here daily, I train here, how many times I’ve lapped this field! I forage here. The trees here are old, and in the summer there are apples, elderberries and plums to to be foraged, in the autumn cobnots, the wild variety of hazelnuts (delicious pan fried in butter and seasoned with a little black pepper!).
This place is overlooked. People don’t see the wild. Instead they hear and smell the industrial estate, see a huge expanse of land and think of it as a waste. But there is much to be found here, if you look with an eye to see. The same is true of anywhere else. It doesn’t matter where you live. And from that connection to land, comes connection with others.
The land is where all folkish stuff comes from (and when I say folkish, I mean in the proper sense of the word, to mean encompassing all things folk related, not the other kind, of which we will not speak. I will say we need to start reclaiming back from those who would misuse them, and this is one such instance. ‘Nuff said!).
All folk tales begin with the land, come from the land. Look how many of them connect to specific places, from the people who come into contact with that land, who add to and enhance and take with them those stories. And the land belongs to all, it differentiates between us not.
So if you do anything this Yule, go outside and find the wild where you live. It doesn’t matter what form that takes. Feel that connection between yourself and the land and as the time of balance approaches, take strength and power from it, for the solstices are such times and you can feel it most in the wild!
Whatever you call the festive season, have a good one!
My name is Emma Kathryn, an eclectic witch, my path is a mixture of traditional European witchcraft, voodoo and obeah, a mixture representing my heritage. I live in the middle of England in a little town in Nottinghamshire, with my partner, two teenage sons and two crazy dogs, Boo and Dexter. When not working in a bookshop full time, I like to spend time with my family outdoors, with the dogs. And weaving magic, of course!You can follow Emma on Facebook.