A great new adventure began in 2012 when I acquired a little over five acres of neglected fen woodland on the banks of the River Yare. The intention over the next years is to upraise its wildlife potential through practical work and with the support of others, but especially my friend, poet Matt Howard. Blackwater Blog is a way of recording these slow-won achievements and celebrating this glorious patch of wild Norfolk.
Last month we visited Dodona just south of Ioannina in Epirus, northern Greece, the site of an ancient oracle that was originally devoted to the Earth Goddess Gaia (to be partly supplanted by Zeus in later centuries). It was a typical place of archaeological interest, rudimentary structures, base walls and open space that somehow unleashed the imagination. Like many places of spiritual power, particularly those in Greece, there seemed a union of natural beauty and human significance as if the spot were inherently charged with greater life energy than others. Who knows. But it felt as if Gaia and all her offspring were still very much in residence. Everywhere you looked were flowers and butterflies amid an atmosphere of birdsong - nightingales, shrikes, subalpine warblers and bee-eaters. Here as a small sample are mating fritillaries (Glanville or Knapweed?), Black-veined White nectaring on scabious, a dazzling bank of the umbellifer Orlaya grandiflora and a replacement oak for the original tree, whose rustling leaves were interpreted by the priests for their messages from the Gods. When we visited there was a lesser spotted woodpecker tapping out its own mysterious code to us.
© Mark Cocker 2013