For years I wandered the woodlands in the fringes of Aberdeen telling myself that one year, I’d follow the trees unfold their leaves, become deep green in summer before turning fiery yellows and reds in autumn and eventually gathering their essence in buds that ward off hard frosts and layers of snow. In 2016 I put pen to paper. Drawing upon my first degree in forestry, general ecological knowledge and experience in environmental education, I now visit my local woods regularly to record and respond to the ins and outs of this wooded world.
But there’s more to it. In Alder and Aspen, I use my responses to my natural surroundings to inspire a range of activities including creative writing, workshops, conversations and nature walks. I started posing questions about what the magic of these woodlands consists of, the ways of being in, and experiencing, environments close to home, what it means to be familiar with a natural environment, and why this matters. Gradually, this showed me that I also need to study the history that shaped the woodlands, and the tension between the land owners legal ownership and residents’ sense of ownership. In Alder and Aspen I aim to create an ongoing dialogue about our relation to natural environments close to home.