chapter  9
23 Pages

The healing forest

One morning, in the first year of my time at Llety’r Fwyalchen, with the dew still heavy and the air cold, I walked out and no more than 10 m from the house I found a grass snake coiled on the path. I instantly leapt, grabbed it by the throat, bundled it into a lidded bucket and hurried back to the house to get my camera. Slowly I leant the bucket on its side and waited for the snake to emerge into the picturesque background of pond and rockery that I had created. For a few seconds nothing happened, then suddenly there was a blur of movement as the angry snake rocketed out and into the greenery before I could fire the shutter. I sat contemplating what I had done. Old responses, old habits. I could have knelt down slowly and quietly at the first encounter, closed my eyes and awaited the images or thoughts that might then have flowed onto the screen of my receptivity. And the snake – of all the symbols, of all the opportunities! It never happened again in the seven years that followed. It would take six years to break the habits of a lifetime of separation, objectification and use of nature for my own personal ends.