Wild Jigsaw – The Touch Of Nature

I’ve been wondering lately whether the unfolding of life is a bit like being a dog on a trail. Following a scent we get lead in all kinds of directions – one to the next, to the next, to the next. And then, we’re off for the adventure, following the path to wherever it goes. And I absolutely love this about life – we may set our goals or direction, but we don’t know the journey they’ll take us on. We start with a whiff of what is possible and let that be our guide. To live this way asks us to trust in the process, to know that the scent which delights our nostrils wishes us to follow. We rarely know how the jigsaw puzzle will fit together, but begin it we must. The same can be said for this piece of writing.

In the last few years the trail has lead me to photographing the free-roaming ponies of Dartmoor, sharing their raw beauty and wildness. It was a modest beginning that has taken me in wonderful directions. The unravelling has lead me here and to a deeper relationship with the natural world than I imagined in my wildest dreams. And still I feel I’m only touching the edges of that. Perhaps that’s because in working with one part of nature we touch the whole, and somehow the vastness of that world begins to sink in. The potential for our connection with the natural world is immense. The balance of it is, however, fragile.

me at riverMy journey with nature began from being a tiny tot, obsessed with the creatures and plants in the garden, wanting always to share their beauty with others – that much is still absolutely the same. My first memories are vividly of such things. You can read my opening blog here for that story. What has happened all across my life is an uncovering and a developing of my own, personal relationship with our Earth. Every piece of work or inspiration I’ve had has taken root in the natural world somewhere. Even when I think it hasn’t I’m lead back to that truth. And this relationship is a deep one. When we feel this love of nature as a relationship, the connection takes on a different meaning. Suddenly we can realise that things are not just connected, but that we are interconnected with ALL life on this planet. I’m increasingly inspired by what I’m learning of other’s approaches to this relationship – both Indigenous and modern. In the past days it’s like I found the pieces of the puzzle that slot closely together. Suddenly there’s a new clarity. All these different avenues I’ve followed over the years are linking and fitting together in a way I’ve never known before. I realise that nothing I’ve ever done following that passion has ever been wasted.

The past five years have been like a crash course in deeper nature connection for me. It really was catalysed by deciding I wanted to become an Animal Communicator. After my first weekend of learning, absolutely everything changed and in hindsight I realise I was blown wide open to a new way of approaching and experiencing the world. Underneath that was a deep remembering of what I’d felt as a child and in my bones – that this interconnection with animals and all living things isn’t just possible – it’s ever present. And that connection is happening all the time whether we notice it or not, it’s everywhere. Our modern lives are often set up in ways that are more disconnected with nature. It can be easy to forget that there is a world going on outside of that that operates in a delicate and ever changing balance, one which we are entirely reliant upon. It’s hard to imagine just how much we need our Earth to live and breathe healthily, how much we are a part of that entwined ecosystem. And how very much we do make a difference.

IMG_2277It really is a beautiful thing to be here, regardless of the challenges we face in re-harmonising our world and working to re-balance what has been lost. It’s a mighty task, but not one without hope in my opinion. Although I feel it’s essential that we be bombarded with images and information that wakes us up to the urgency of what our beautiful Earth is suffering right now, I also feel that without being given the information that suggests possible solutions, we become overwhelmed, numb and shut-down. It’s staggering to think that in the UK between the 1930’s and 2016 we had lost 97% of our wild flower meadows. Faith placed in others to make the changes for us wastes time and energy. We can feel a hopelessness that freezes our actions – we don’t know which way to go. This hopelessness is one of the greatest challenges that we face because it de-motivates us. Closing our eyes to it won’t help. Apathy is no friend of change.

As much as I could talk about all the things we’re not doing, I’d rather focus my attention on what is possible. Whether anyone thinks I’m naive in my sensibilities or not, I wholly believe that it is our connection with nature and our love of nature that will pull us through. That may sound over simplistic, but it is not. The whole of our ecosystem is a delicate balance. Each one of us is like the cells of Earth, the parts of the body that make up this whole being. The rivers, the trees, the seas, oceans, mountains, animals, minerals, plants, humans – everything – are part of that living, breathing system. When we view the Earth as a living being, more like a body, it takes on a different view. Thinking in those lines….if we were having repeated chemicals thrown on our skin, having our organs and resources taken without being asked, being beaten, drilled, having our veins blocked or re-directed, given food that didn’t suit us let alone nourish us, not hearing ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’ enough – wouldn’t we be bloated, tired, angry, cranky, windy, and spewing stuff back out again?! Wouldn’t we be trying everything we could to get ourselves back to health no matter the extreme measures? Wouldn’t we want to be heard and be shouting as loud as we could for help? So that is what we have got. We need to listen to our bodies when they are sick. Likewise, we need to listen to the Earth. Parts die off, parts are born, parts re-grow, parts are in creation constantly. We shift in and out of balance, in and out of health. We are the microcosm and the macrocosm. We never were supposed to be the whole jigsaw, but instead – pieces of the amazing puzzle that is our planet. When we get an understanding of that, even the tiniest one, it really can transform our thinking. And when our thoughts change, our actions can change too. What we do and how we act can shift that balance more quickly than we realise. And that’s the wonderful, double-edged thing. The way we push the direction is up to us.

IMG_3039When faced with the global picture as individuals it’s overwhelming. But we wouldn’t expect one cell in our body to heal the entire body would we? We would know that it takes much energy and collaboration to heal the whole. Not every cell (or person) can be part of the healing, and nor will they be, but we’re all involved somehow. And that is much of how the natural world works. It’s a huge collaboration, a joint effort – we work together, each plays a part. We are not separate. Whatever the modern world leads us to believe in human terms, we are absolutely interconnected. And for the most part, I think we do care and we do want to change, and change is happening. We need to support each other in that, because what we focus on comes into creation. Jane Goodall speaks of how tiny acts multiplied create great change and I couldn’t agree more.

Nature if left to it’s own devices regrows itself and regenerates. All species affect the habitat they inhabit, every single one of us has some kind of footprint. We cannot get away from that fact. In nature of course if a branch comes down from a tree, it boosts the roots by rotting away at its base. Nature is absolutely intelligent and perfectly able to restore itself all on it’s own. With the human impact it’s different, purely because of the velocity at which we are affecting change. For the natural world to catch up with at the speed we’re going is pretty impossible whilst we’re on the planet, living as we are. We are so powerful in our ability to create, and we can create solutions when we work with nature. Life in its essence is change, we’re learning all the time. I spent years working as a gardener, loving tending the land, I followed the rules and dug the soil, tidied everything up. I pruned and cut back growth all the time. And now I’ve come to the realisation that I no longer wish to physically dig up the earth. I want to work on restoring it, I want to work with the earth and animals in new ways. I’m changing my focus that’s all. As I learn, I too, change.

IMG_3462When we work with nature, instead of against, there are infinite possibilities. I’m learning more every day and it excites me, I am not a scientist, nor an expert in such things. I am expert only in the life I am committed to creating – that involves what I learn from working directly with the animals and nature itself, sharing that with others in multiple ways. What I’m reading about right now fuels my hunger for a future that is beyond the gloom we’re often bombarded with, it gives me that greatest gift of all – hope. We’re living in a unique time and we’re going to have to adapt and change if we want to continue being here and we are changing. And here is what I see….As individuals or small collectives we’re realising that we are not without power. We can plant wild flowers in our gardens or balconies, we can grow some food (yes, even in urban environments), we can support our local economies as much as possible, we can demand alternatives to plastic (because consumers really do create the market), we can recycle clothes and buy pre-loved, bring a re-usable cup for our coffee. We can create city gardens and bee highways, we can go to beach or litter clean-ups, we can guerrilla plant, we can switch our shampoo and washing liquid to chemical free, we can stop using pesticides in our gardens, we can grow a meadow instead of a lawn, feed the birds, go walking, buy cruelty free, eat less meat or no meat, reduce or drop dairy and so very much more. These small things are actually, immense.

If we talk with others and share our projects and goals, we act as sponges for information and ideas – we become the cross-pollinators of our lives. We can educate ourselves about the planet and really be jolted into action by the horrors of what we see rather than flattened/frozen by them. We can decide what we would like to focus on creating. Whether we think it’s too late or not, thinking about it alone won’t do anything. Action is the antidote to apathy, so just pick your cause(s) and roll with it, there’s plenty to choose from and you will make a difference. It really is an exciting time to be here, we can see ourselves as defeated or motivated. The choice is ours and the time really is now. Your Earth Needs You. And you need your Earth…

With gratitude to the amazing Earth we live on and all us who inhabit the planet. Let’s do this…..

Fi x

Things I love currently:

One Planet (Netflix), Wilding (Isabella Tree), George Monbiot generally, The Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible (Charles Eisenstein), Timeless Simplicity (John Lane), Aluna (Kogi People of Columbia), We Borrow The Earth (Patrick Jasper Lee), Reclaiming The Wild Soul (Mary Reynolds Thompson), The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind (Netflix), Strong Women Wild Horses (Youtube), The Ponies of Dartmoor and so much more….

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The Gift Is The Change-Storm

It never ceases to amaze me that in making one little change, a whole gamut of change follows. As many times as I’ve experienced this in life, I seem to forget that it’s how it goes. Sometimes that feels manageable, other times it’s as if a tsunami engulfs me, leaving wreckage in its wake. With that in mind, I am hardly surprised that so many of us resist or avoid change. And I say that with a smile on my face, an understanding of how well I have learnt that about myself recently.

For someone who has always loved change as far as I knew it, I’ve been wondering why I hit an impasse in myself recently. The conclusion I’ve come to for now is that I love change when I’m at the helm of it – well don’t we all. I’ve been someone who has continuously sought out change and thought I had the whole ‘adapting to change’ thing down to a tee. But when it comes out of the blue and knocks me for six, that’s when I start to squirm. I imagine it may be similar for a lot of us, but change comes anyway, whether we want it or not. I know that there is the old adage that the only thing that stays the same is that everything changes, but it doesn’t mean we have to like it or find it easy. Holding onto the past is pointless, yet we do. Often at the point where the biggest transition is about to take place we face the greatest resistance – we hold on as if clinging to a sinking wreck of a ship thinking that will give the safety of what we know. Even if it’s got no hope at all that’s left is a few battered pieces of rotting wood on the water. But the open ocean beckons…. and if we reach for it, there’s a dinghy and oars just ahead. They are the opportunity for the new. It’s going to take work rowing those seas, yet somehow it will reap rewards. Who knows what beauty the journey AND the destination holds. We’ll never know unless we take that leap of faith and trust that what is falling apart no longer serves us.

My big change this year has been breaking my ankle at the beginning of it. It’s been quite the shock and in many ways it was completely unexpected. Some people say they saw their accidents coming – I didn’t see it coming, truly. I dealt pretty well with it at the beginning stages, even in the middle stages. Incredible healing took place and I’m very lucky that in the long term it’s probably only going to give me minor irritation from time to time. I can’t possibly know how it’s going to be but so far it’s been pretty miraculous. I know that injury is so much more than a physical healing and my own work has taught me volumes of that in terms of other people and working with their animals. It is a different thing however, when it happens to you. In many ways, this has been my tsunami of change. What I’ve faced within myself has been huge. I’ve never been a particularly fearful person, always stepping into the fire in many ways – again, seeking out that which would make me experience life to the fullest. Following whatever I’ve felt a ‘yes’ feeling within me to do has been my greatest navigational compass. I’ve had loads of different ways that I’ve expressed my creativity throughout my life and I’ve worked on some really complex and intense cases with my animal communication work, my photography reflects a combination of these elements. Time and time again I’ve been the one to share information about healing with others, messages from the animals about healing their owners and so forth. I didn’t expect that in breaking a bone I would be taken right into the core of some of my fears, fears that were in some dark, cobwebby room long forgotten.

IMG_1460.JPGWhen I was first able to get out and drive again after six weeks of little activity, I felt like it was like being let out of some kind of prison, oh the freedom. And then came the interesting stuff. This freedom scared me for the first time in my life. I now felt vulnerable physically and emotionally after having a period of time where I’d had to completely re-learn what felt safe. Being out in my car and on the moors wasn’t exciting, it was terrifying! Oh I had not bargained for this at all, what on earth was going on? My accident had happened in a really simple way, no heroics on the moors, no running around with a wild pony or jumping off tors. Nothing that I could say – oh well, that was your fault, shouldn’t have done it etc. I had just twisted my ankle a little too far and slipped a little too much – it could happen to anyone, anytime. This reality presented itself very strongly and suddenly I felt totally unsafe. Now at this point you could suggest that I might go out with friends until I felt safe, but I knew that would only delay my ultimate need to square this with myself. The only person who could sort these feelings out was me. And that was what stopped me dead in my tracks. I cannot explain how upsetting that was. It brought up so much fear – mainly of how I was going to get from this place I was in in myself, to where I really wanted to be. I knew I couldn’t go ‘back’ to who I was before, and what was ahead was not clear. I was in the water so to speak, ship had sunk, dinghy waiting.

That was exactly when I had the incredible encounter with a mare on the moor. For those of you who are on Instagram, you may have read some of this story already. But I want to give more justice to her and the immense gift she brought me that day. My first solo walk I chose a place that looked relatively flat and easy to navigate. There were a whole bunch of ponies and I wanted to be around them again, hopefully get close and in a gentle way. The first youngster I came across was curious and approached in a gentle way – this I was entirely comfortable with. Great I thought, this is going just as I’d like it too – there’s the illusion again. Easy steps back into my world. And then a white mare began to approach me in a very confident manner. Now, this in itself would have been absolutely fine a few weeks before, but now I was scared and she was super pushy. It didn’t matter what I did she didn’t seem to want to step back. I attempted to make my energy bigger physically and emotionally, but nothing. These old tricks if I’m honest I do not like doing and she would have read that in me. Inside myself I suddenly was swearing and thinking what the hell was I doing. Was this was where I’d got to – fear? And then I burst into tears. The thing I loved most, being around these beauties, was now causing me distress. The feeling of grief was just awful. I worried in that moment that I may never be able to get back to them again, that I may never feel confidence return, that I couldn’t photograph them or take people to walk amongst them. This was quite a moment. I really didn’t want it to be this way, I was going to have to sort it – somehow. The mare had left at this point, reluctantly after giving me a look expressing and equal amount of questioning and “what the heck are you doing?”. We both knew this wasn’t the real me. How was I going to get to her again?

white mareI continued walking. And then reached a higher point and sat amongst a group of gorse bushes. Safe. A few moments later, the white mare approached again, I felt my inner nervousness return yet I said to myself that this time I was not going to move, I would sit there and let her come – inside I was shaking. So she came and stood right in front of me, right at my feet. I spoke with her and told her of my fears, I said that I was only scared of being broken again and that she might hurt me without meaning to. I told her how I had been in so much pain and wanted to be around them again. She looked at me so directly and then she brought her head to my left knee and ran her nose all the way down my leg to my ankle gently, stopping there. This was my injured leg, she stopped right at my physical break. This still this makes my eyes water. Even though I’ve experienced this countless times around others and their animals, it had never happened to me. There I was having my own healing with a free-roaming pony, completely at her choice and direction. It was a huge moment. I sat there really still and we just looked at each other. The energy was immense. I knew there and then she had helped me more than I ever could have asked for. I had gone looking for healing that day and received it in a way that I couldn’t ever have imagined. This is the extraordinary gift that animals can give to us when we’re open to receiving. After years of being around the ponies on Dartmoor, something new clicked into place that day, a new way began. There was no need to go ‘back’.

Since then it has been a steady and continuous process returning to the moors and the ponies. And every single experience has asked me to open myself out further to trusting the ponies and myself. It’s easy to assume that we need to just place our attention on animals and what they may do next, but really we do need to ask ourselves how we are feeling around animals both domestic and wilder. We need to learn to listen to ourselves. And when we’re able to do that more and to know what is comfortable, uncomfortable and what wishes to be worked through in ourselves, the potential for healing is unfathomable. I have been learning so much about trust as a result of breaking my ankle. I’ve faced some really uncomfortable stuff in myself and developed a much greater understanding of the suffering of others. This is only the tiniest part of the transformation that’s taken place. In many ways my ‘accident’ has opened me up to receiving and to letting go.

Courtesy of Beth Fawcett Photography

Learning to trust ourselves is of such value, I can hardly stress that enough. Because that trust stretches into everything that we do and every single relationship we experience, including those with animals and the natural world. I continue with my journey of trust, and imagine it’s life long as the waters shift and change. We get better at sailing stormy seas. And what more beautiful thing is that incredible feeling of calm after a storm and knowing that somehow, we got through it? Our hard work paid off even if we’re bruised and exhausted. We develop even more trust in ourselves. Change is inevitable and we’re not in control of it, and boy does our world need that now. We have much to do to create the world we hope to leave for generations ahead. And even if we don’t want those changes, they’re rocking up anyway. How we navigate the change is the only thing we have a choice in. And that is more empowering than we can imagine – that is treasure.

With immense gratitude to the white mare and all the ponies on Dartmoor for just being…. here.

Fi x

 

Photograph of myself with a yearling foal on Dartmoor, courtesy of Beth Fawcett Photography

 

Of Ponies and Calamity – The Exhibition Diaries

An exhibition is an amazing thing. On one hand it’s exciting and full of potential, on the other hand it’s nerve-racking, demanding and uncertain. Many artists (and I use that word to describe all creativity, including photography) may never choose to share their work in this way because of the trials and tribulations that may occur. I meet some incredibly gifted artists who don’t show their work, or find it really challenging to move beyond that initial fear of bringing their work into the world. Whatever stage you’re at as an artist, whether it’s the beginning or as an established artist, shows brings butterflies every time. And if it doesn’t any more, then I’d question if that artist is sharing enough of themselves with the world through their work, whether they are daring to stretch that creation. Anything that is brought to fruition and birthed into the world has the potential to leave us feeling vulnerable and raw. It also has the potential to make our soul – soar.

My recent exhibition of photography was a labour of love. Photographing the ponies on Dartmoor is my passion, it is also a huge part of my work as an Animal Intuitive. It moves me in more ways than I ever imagined when I first picked up a camera. Photography began as a tool for sharing experiences and wanting to capture the energy of moments as I walked amongst the ponies. It’s now become intrinsic in the creation of moments, and documenting the often short lives here. It is woven into me. I have become part of the lives that I photograph – all that the ponies go through, I feel too. This has been part of a huge personal journey for me, one that is equally joyous, rewarding and heartbreaking at times.

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Creating a show, especially a solo show is a great challenge. Having had more than a few exhibitions over the years, I knew roughly what to expect in terms of the physical creation of work, the process of choosing pieces and so on. I am very familiar with the emotional process that goes along with it too. By default, there is always some kind of confidence crisis before the show goes up. These are all the tribulations of sharing with the world and the very real exposure that an exhibition – is. I have to say that this time the show went up beautifully, I had great help and it was fun. A robin flew into the barn gallery as we worked on the order of the images – that robin hopped around and looked at every single image, and then did the whole circle again. This felt particularly poignant. When we’d finished, I stood in that room and looked around at what had been created, it was quite a moment. In the avoidance of sharing with the world because of fear of criticism or exposure, it’s easy to forget that an exhibition, more than anything else, is a celebration. For me, looking around at the work, I was silenced by the changes that had happened in my life over the past few years. The physical evidence of that was staring me in the face. I could no longer avoid that reality or pretend it wasn’t so. I was deeply proud if I’m honest and felt a huge sense of gratitude for all that had changed and grown in relationship with these amazing beings. I drank that in and I’m so glad that I did. I had no idea of what was to come and how that would stretch me much, much further.

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The opening of the show was a gentle and nurturing evening. More than anything it was about celebrating bringing this vision of the Ponies of Dartmoor into the world. I gave a speech about the work, which was a wonderful thing to do. I knew that I needed to do this to really clarify the angle I’m coming from and my personal motivations for the photography. The response to this was great, and it was a big move forward within myself to speak out publicly in this way. My work is a lot about connection and collaboration with the natural world, it’s about being absolutely in the moment. Early on into photographing the ponies I realised that it was very important for me not to ‘take’ photographs but to be involved in receiving. So this was essential to share with everyone at the private view. I knew that after that evening, the work would be out in the world in another way and that I would have much less involvement in how it was received. I knew I wouldn’t have control. I’d made the commitment to be at the exhibition every weekend over the month long show, totalling five weekends.

On day four I had a phone-call. It’s the kind of call you never want to receive when you have a show on. It was explained to me that my work had been weather damaged and that I’d need to go up immediately to the exhibition and decide whether I wanted to continue. I can hardly tell you how that felt – devastating would be one word, there are many others. Getting to the show and seeing the work, it was clear that during some bizarre weather conditions, unique to Dartmoor and that particular space, damp had got into the framed works. The gallery itself is in a beautiful barn, a perfect backdrop for the work. It’s rural and part of it’s charm is that it’s connected in many ways with the outdoors. I knew there was a slight chance that a piece might become damp, but it had only happened once before to someone. What I was dealing with was much more than that. As I walked around the gallery, I saw that every single framed piece was warped, the images bubbled and stretching out their backing. The sudden cold and damp had got in between the glass and the frame and had created some pretty bizarre distortion of the the images. I looked at them and my heart was extremely heavy. The question rang around my head about continuing the show and I knew it was without question that we would continue. I had a newspaper article coming out the following weekend and I’d advertised it so much that I couldn’t not be there. Besides, most importantly, I’d made that commitment to the ponies and I couldn’t break that.

Painting The Prairie Pinto

It’s a funny thing about commitment………you don’t realise how committed you are until the scenario appears that tests you to the extreme to show you that. In years gone by, this event would have absolutely flawed me, I’d have disappeared into a pool on the floor and given up. But here’s the thing, I am working with and in collaboration with the ponies. I have made a deep commitment to bringing their unique beauty into the world, into sharing what I feel is sometimes overlooked. I am not working alone and when there are others who are relying on you, it’s different. I couldn’t let them, or myself, down. What was happening in the show was like a mirror, a reflection of some of the hardships endured. If you work with wild-ones and nature, then endurance is a huge part of that. You’re going to have to step up.

I am so, so glad that I made the choice to continue with the show. I would love to tell you that it all went really smoothly from there and I sold every piece of work, but it’s not how it went. I was really challenged in myself. Every weekend I went up and saw the work I was devastated by the damage, knowing that for me, something had really changed. I felt vulnerable and raw. My insurance didn’t cover it, the gallery’s insurance didn’t cover it. I couldn’t find the words to share that with many people. Those images did some weird things over the show. At times, you couldn’t see so much of what had happened but when storm Callum came in, they all ballooned and warped again, this time the mount-boards warping too! Luckily, I had lots of mounted prints for sale that weren’t damaged and gift cards too, these ticked along. The framed pieces, I made very clear, would be re-created for anyone who bought them, after the show. I think a lot of people may not have noticed the crinkles in the images, the warping that occurred. To some they may just have looked like badly produced frames. I spoke about it with some folk, not with others. To be honest, I was just trying to get through the experience rather than draw more attention to it.

To sit with this throughout a month was very interesting. I cannot help thinking that photographing these ponies and Dartmoor involves some complex energies, energies that are interwoven with the work and me. It felt no accident as during the show there was the annual drift (round-up/health-check) of the ponies from the moors, resulting in the sale of many foals. Some foals never make it to the sales as is widely publicised, more on that another time. There is a lot of loss around the ponies and there is no way around that. But I’d dared myself to work with them anyway, in-spite of that and because of that, I’d connected this year with the foals in a way I’d never allowed myself to before for fear of my feelings of loss come October. The theme that ran throughout conversations was about the peace in the photographs, the stories that people shared about their experiences with the ponies, their vitality, their spirit. There were many stories shared over the weeks, some that made me cry, some that made those sharing them cry. Emotion is a huge part of this work. And a lot of emotion was evoked for people. It was very clear to me that many people feel a connection, a love, a grief and a frustration about what happens with the ponies and the natural world. I know that for me, emotion is the key to knowing that I’m doing something ‘right’. If that emotion I feel can reach people through the images, it’s a job well done.

White StarOn the last day of the show, big magic happened. There was a moment where the whole room was filled with people who had come especially for the show. They spoke with me about the ponies, the photography itself, the connection, the techniques, my motivation, the simplicity, the beauty. It was the kind of magic you really wait for and absolutely hope will happen. I sold a bunch of prints and a whole load of cards. But most of all, I had the conversations that are what give me faith in the work and in our connection with nature. On that last day, it became blindingly obvious that I had established myself, I’d come through something huge. Through all that challenge and difficulty, from facing the worst scenarios I could imagine in a show. Including a sheep on the land outside the gallery who died on one of the weekends in a way that I shall never forget. I was with her as she departed in a harrowing way, unable to leave her in that moment – profoundly moved. My skills as an animal communicator were used to the maximum on many days during that exhibition. I had a hummingbird hawk-moth fly in and hover for a good long time over my artist’s statement and then take her look around. A robin who repeatedly looked around the gallery, cats, dogs and more who came to visit. I lost a glass contact lens and spent two hours looking for it with friends on a gravel floor in the gallery – appreciate the ridiculousness of that! I cried, I was hugged, I disbelieved, I shook, I laughed and I screamed inside myself at times. I sat in that show for hours when no-one came and still honoured my commitment to be there. I wanted to give up but – no.

It turns out that the biggest thing that I learned is this….. the most important person to establish yourself with is yourself. And that much is done. There will be many more shows to come, I don’t know how they will be, or what may happen. I hope nothing as extreme as that ever happens again, but if it does, well…. I have experience! And this is what I would say to you all, whatever you want to do, the projects you want to bring into the world, the things you wish you could share that may scare you, perhaps it’s worth it. This situation that happened to me is extremely rare. Who knows, you may be challenged to your limits, but you may just find strength, support and satisfaction that you never knew before. You may discover a new you.

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To the ponies of Dartmoor thank you…… this is just our beginning of sharing with the world. Long may we continue our work together.

With gratitude and love to all

Fi x

All images are my own and therefore respectfully © Fi Takács

Fine Art Giclée Prints of photographs are also for sale. All high quality prints and limited edition. See website for gallery  http://www.earthador.co.uk    earthador@gmail.com      Instagram ~ earthadorfi

 

What Lies Underneath

There is a stillness underneath the  stillness that until today I’d not fully recognised. Life seems to operates on levels of things – in my experience anyway. I’ll reach a point of understanding with something and amazing things will happen. I’ll say to myself that it couldn’t get any better and that I’ve reached a peak level of wonder that will stay where it is. But no….. life has another plan. These levels seem to hit what feels like a highpoint, and then they go back to a beginning again. It isn’t the beginning you first started with, but it’s a new chapter all the same.

All week I’ve had a kind of agitated feeling inside me, one that wouldn’t go away. Every time I sat in nature whilst about my daily tasks, I found myself wanting – more. But what was the more I was wanting? I wanted to feel what was deeper in, below that first level of stillness which for me has a feeling of almost ‘trying’ about it. When I’m trying to be still, or reach a calm place, or stop my mental chatter, it simply doesn’t work. For someone who is super-blessed with a lot of time where I’m connected with nature, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was I was wanting. Also I questioned if I was just being a little greedy with my need for such things. But still my heart and soul would not shut up. All I knew was this – my whole being wanted to stop. I didn’t want the pressure of anything on my shoulders. I wanted to know that I could sit by the river all day and do – nothing. Walk out onto the moorland without a care and not feel a need to do a thing. How many of us ever get the chance to do this? I have snippets of it, much longer than most I’ll grant you that. However, to really reach the place I wanted to get to in myself, I knew that there had to be space around it too, time for it to bed in, time for things to settle. This is what I’d been missing. I’d have to wait.

IMG_1622This morning I woke early. The birds were gorgeously singing away. I got up and went outside to feed them, taking in the Sunday morning air. It was a glorious day, full sunshine even at that time and the stillness was present across the breeze. This would be a good day to go out. I hadn’t planned to, but suddenly I felt the nudge to go. I was feeling in a quiet place in myself, one which I can only describe as where it’s my soul dictating what’s to be done. I’ve learnt to listen to her.

Arriving onto Dartmoor’s high moorland, I headed towards a favourite spot. I had in mind to seek out a particular group of ponies, but before that I saw a large herd wandering across the land. I wanted to stop. As I got out of the car, a few of the ponies remained where they were, but the others, including the white stallion I hadn’t seen for a long time walked off into the distance. I watched a couple of young foals, colts, playing with each other and absorbed the scene. A particular pony, a yearling male, wanted to come in very close. So gently I let him and gave his head a stroke. He was really open to this so we spent quite a while with me scratching his neck and under his chin, then even his main body. He was very open to me being there. Now I know that a lot of foals here are pretty friendly, but not all are. Some are very shy, some have mothers that see you off, stallions see you off, some foals come right in and then be seen off. So I’m not surprised if such interactions suddenly stop. Besides, these are semi-wild ponies and for me a huge part of their charm is that they are – changeable. This means that by spending time with them I, personally have found myself much more able to be in the moment.

Today was different. It was like every agenda I had was gone, my thoughts had disappeared and there I was with this perky yearling who was by this time trying to scratch every itch on my car and wing mirrors. This was not ok! I’ve seen wing mirrors knocked off completely in their itching frenzy. So I approached him again saying that I wasn’t alright with him doing this and would be quite happy to give him some more scratches if that was what he wanted. So I scratched his neck, then gestured to go forwards. Scratched again, suggesting to follow me. I waited. He began to just that. I let him know that it was up to him if he followed, keeping on encouraging him it was safe to do so. Just talking like you or I would to each other. And he followed…. that alone made my heart leap. What happened next, silenced me.

IMG_1729Looking into this chap’s eyes, I could see that he was tired. He was fighting back the sleep standing there. As most of you will already know, ponies and horses can and do, easily sleep standing up. Only a small part of their lives do they sleep lying down and it’s very vulnerable for them to do so. I looked at this foal again, saying to him that he looked really tired and didn’t he want to lie down and have a sleep? I said that I too felt quite tired, and that I was going to have a rest. He looked at me and I sat down on the grass, relaxing myself completely. He stayed still. Then he began walking towards me, as if to walk towards the mare and foal a few feet away. He stopped, very, very close to me and flopped down onto the ground. Lying his whole body across the moorland scrub, that pony put down his head and went to sleep. I have absolutely no way to describe how utterly magical this was. I’ve never experienced this in such close body-space with any pony here. It was incredibly special to be there with him whilst he slept – an honour.

It’s taken years of spending time amongst these herds, years getting to know them little-by-little, never pushing for anything although I so much want connection with these precious beings. I’ve had many ponies flop down for a sleep close by, but this was so close that I could have just reached my hand a little and touched him. His feet were almost next to mine. It lasted a minute or two. At the same time as he went to sleep, in the distance I could see a group of ponies making their way back towards us, the majestic white stallion included. I knew that the time for this moment was limited and revelled in the beauty of it all. Pure, utter, magic.IMG_1630

In the morning I’d picked up a book “Think Harmony With Horses” by the wonderful Ray Hunt and read a little of the beginning. I hadn’t read his work for a long time but found myself drawn to the book again. For those opening pages he was talking about letting the horse/pony/donkey feel that it is their idea and their choice to do things with you. He talks in depth about it. How nothing should be forced, and trust should be developed with all friends, animals and humans alike. When I was with the ponies this morning, it was like my being was infused with those words, that way of harmony. I’ve had incredible, incredible times with these ponies, but today – today it felt like a whole new level. And the stillness I felt, was exactly that which I’d been seeking all week. In reality, I was just next to a car park off the main road over the moors. Stillness was reached in an unlikely place, and an absolutely unexpected experience. Life astounds me.

I furthered my walk just a few hundred metres along the moor, leaving the ponies over the hill. Finally, I sat myself down amongst the granite and the wild grasses and found more of the deeper stillness I’d been longing for. My whole being sunk into the earth. When I returned, there they all were by my car. I stopped to greet them, and one by one the ponies turned and walked out onto the open moorland. It felt absolutely perfect that they left in that very moment, gently merging with the land once more. My soul was left, full.

With gratitude and love to these amazing beings, and to the colt who brought and shared with me the purest stillness I’ve ever known,

Fi x

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All images are my own and therefore respectfully © Fi Takács

Fine Art Giclée Prints of photographs are also for sale. All high quality prints and limited edition. Do contact me for further info –  Connect

 

When Your Heart Is Herd

It’s taken me a long time to share this story because it is so personal. It was one of the moments of my life where I had to remember I wasn’t dreaming. Really, it was just a warm-up for what was to come. Because now…. now there are things that happen most weeks that blow me away. Yet something about this one day will remain one of the most formative and beautiful experiences of my life. Right from the very beginning of being on Dartmoor, even before I moved here, the ponies were at the centre of the experience. In truth, I feel it was they who called to me, as much as my heart longed for this life.

Several years ago during the late winter, nearly nine years ago now, I found myself looking after two dogs whilst their owner was away. I’d moved to Dartmoor nine months before that and was already absolutely in love with the place. Looking after two dogs was going to give me even more reasons for getting out and about, walking and exploring. At this point I had no camera (not even a phone with a camera), nor did I work around animals or understand communicating with them. Or so I thought. I was deeply into writing music and songs at the time and loved to sing away when I was out on walks. The moors were the perfect place for it as often I wouldn’t see a soul and could enjoy practising without inhibition – there’s something about singing outdoors that is very liberating.

For around a week I got really into taking a particular walk with the dogs. I didn’t plan to keep taking that walk, but every day we’d drive up to this area of the moors and I’d see the same bunch of ponies up on the hill. I was fascinated by their forms over in the distance and longed to be nearer to them. As I was with the dogs I thought it was probably best not to, so we stayed where we were and walked. They were quite a way away, so off we went about our exploring. Each day I felt that even though we were distant from each other, those ponies very much knew we were there. Each day my heart beat stronger for them and I so wanted to be close to them – I just loved seeing them on the horizon line.

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On the final day of my dog-sitting, we walked the same route. My eyes focussed on the ponies and they seemed a little closer to us that day. I looked up and as I did, I felt this over-whelming desire for them to be next to us. I wished with all my might that they would be ‘here’. I did a double-take as one of them seemed to be moving down across the land, and then I had to look again. I could hardly believe my eyes as the whole herd began running across the moor and towards us. I felt between delight, awe and apprehension as they suddenly charged full pelt down the hill. I couldn’t quite believe that they were going to actually come right over so I stood still with the dogs, keeping myself calm. They slowed their pace and all of them stopped right in front of us, looking very inquisitive indeed. The most over-whelming emotion I felt was love. It absolutely washed over me, from me to them and from them to us. And for some reason I decided I wanted to know how they might respond to singing!

I began to sing, gently, the song I was writing at the time. What happened was incredible. The ponies came in even closer and formed a circle around me, I can’t remember exactly the numbers of them, but I think it was eight or so. They nuzzled and sniffed and looked into my eyes which were very watery at that point. The stillness was unbelievable. All my fear had disappeared, the dogs were absolutely quiet and lying down, without danger nor threat. I felt like I was in some ancient scene, one where the union happening, was not only between myself and the ponies, but the dogs, the land, the whole place – I felt absolutely, connected. It was such a wonderful experience, one that I couldn’t quite take in. Even as it was happening I knew that it was something very special. I felt that I was in a film, one where I watched and thought – “oh my…… I wish.” Looking back from where I am now, I know that the ponies were teaching me, showing me what was to come.

We stayed together quite a while. Knowing my songs at that time, they were around ten minutes long, so the ponies would have had all of that time with us! I looked to the sky and noticed that the day was drawing in and that evening was not long away. It was also cold, so it seemed we must move on. Being in the middle of the circle, I wasn’t sure how to handle moving out from the ponies but gently said to the dogs that we were going to go back to the car. I moved really close to the ponies, letting them know I was going to need to be out of the circle and they were so gentle letting me past. I felt sad if I’m honest – I wanted just to spend hours and days with them out there. The loop of energy had been so beautiful that I didn’t want it to stop. We turned and began walking, remaining deep in the feeling of stillness.

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I suddenly realised that one by one, the ponies had come out of the circle and were walking behind us in a line. Even now this fills me with absolute joy to remember it. A woman, two dogs and a whole line of ponies walking behind her. I kept looking back, as if pinching myself to see if it were true. I couldn’t believe my own eyes! They followed us in that line, all the way back to my car. I can remember turning to them and thanking them – even at that point where I thought I didn’t know anything about communicating with animals. I was thanking them as my friends, my equals. I was already working with them without knowing it. I was so grateful for their time and their escort to the car. I know I’d felt a slight worry that the weather was coming in and if we’d be safe, so their presence was more welcome than I can ever say.

Looking back to that winter’s day, it’s as if the ponies themselves were telling me who I was, helping me to know what I’d be doing in future. They knew, but I didn’t. I wouldn’t have been truly ready at that point to work with them in this way. But the scenes, the events – they were caught in my mind and heart. They were stored away in a bank of experiences that were being stocked up for a while, before I got a camera, (at first a tiny point-and-shoot) and began photographing them. It’s very hard to explain the kind of emotions that can happen around horses, ponies and animals when things like this happen. For me, it can feel heart-stoppingly-beautiful and has always felt like that. I can see now that from my very first moments as a child I was endlessly chatting away to creatures and felt a true bond with them, even the tiniest beings. As adults or teenagers, often we’re taught to ‘grow out’ of things and to ‘grow up’, as if the magic has to disappear when we mature. But it doesn’t. Let me be absolutely clear here, working with and around animals is no bed of roses. For all the magic that happens there is equal tragedy, loss and sometimes horror. Because nature is all things, as are we.

To come close to animals is to open ourselves equally to love and to loss. To love wild creatures is really to be in the rhythm of life, because you never know when or if you’ll see them again. But you’ll always meet souls when you’re out and about. Even in cities there is opportunity to meet nature. It’s a very different experience, but nature is with us ALL the way if we’re open to seeing, hearing and feeling that. The Earth is always beneath us, no matter where we are. I don’t feel we need any lengthy training to open our hearts to the magic of connection that is happening at any given moment, it’s more of a remembering of what we deep-down know already. My work involves helping others to come back to that – with themselves, with their animals, with the ponies here. Most of us are starving for connection and we may have been hungry all our lives but not always sure what for. For me, the landscape of Dartmoor and the incredible ponies, the amazing animals that are bound to this place are the most wonderful way to open that door to remembering. I hear of people having profound experiences here that move them so much they up sticks and decide to live here – I am one of them! One ride on a horse on the open moorland and that was it!

I cannot ever share enough the joy of how it is to open out to the connection that is possible with animals and our Earth. It is life-changing, life-affirming and absolutely – essential. These connections and happenings can seem like small things, little interactions or shifts, but in truth, they are much more than that. It is how we view them, how we notice them, how we feel about them – that is what gives them weight, value and worth. However ‘small’ the experience, it can still change us. Look at a child who spends hours watching a bee or a butterfly, that is magic. That is what leads us to remaining open to the riches around us. For the thousands of teachings that I’ve experienced and continue to have thrown my way, I’m eternally grateful. And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

With gratitude to all the amazing animals here, in memory of this beautiful mare, who was lost tragically with her foal this winter…. May the circle remain strong.

Fi x

IMG_5908.JPGAll images are my own and therefore respectfully © Fi Takács

Fine Art Giclée Prints of photographs are also for sale. All high quality prints and limited edition. Do contact me for further info –  Connect

 

Calling In The Band

It’s amazing how life leads us in so many different directions. We start at one point and from there, it may seem clear in that moment as to where things are going. But in truth, we don’t always know where things may lead. It really is a great and hopefully long, winding road, full of diversions and pit-stops. I can see now that these threads with the animals and working with these wild ponies of Dartmoor began long ago. From my first visit here, over ten years ago, the ponies were right at the heart. From that first interaction with them properly, they were helping me to re-connect to my wildness, asking me to look deeper into myself. In short, they were teaching me from the beginning – waiting for me to fully open my senses rather than the other way around.

It was my great privilege last week to have my first more formal journey onto the moors, acting as a guide and sharer of knowledge with a lovely woman who really wanted to get closer to the ponies and how to learn to ‘communicate’ with them more. My job that day was merely to act as a conduit or facilitator for whatever happened, to help encourage trust and connection. The night before, I spent a while thinking about what I might like to say or share, the direction I might like to lead in and no strong answers came. How was I going to ‘teach’ if there was no plan? The strongest feeling was absolutely to go with it and that the ponies and the moors themselves would lead us. That all sounds very well, but it can be difficult to trust these things and let go of the need for a timetable. If there’s one thing the wild ones teach me again and again is that it’s best to throw any preconceived ideas out of the window. The whole point of connecting with nature, animals and our Earth is that there is a rhythm underlying everything, and that, we are not in control of.

Life is full of choices isn’t it? To go this way or that way? Which way do we decide to go? What pulls us in a direction? Where do we make that decision from in ourselves? When we are at a literal crossroads – which way? Head, heart, what? A few days before this journey, I had had a very strong desire to go onto the moors. After a heavy day of physical work, it went against my usual need to go slow, but the internal nagging wouldn’t stop. As a result and following this feeling that persisted, truly beautiful things unfolded with the ponies when they appeared. Trusting that gave me a renewed confidence in those inner hunches. I don’t always follow them, but I’m very glad when I do! I know that there is a consensus that the more we see the things that happen in our lives, the more they start happening. But I don’t personally feel it is that way…. My feeling is that things are happening to us all the time, nature and the animals are communicating with us all the time, life conspires for magical events and synchronicity frequently. When we see them, when our eyes are opening, or more open – suddenly it’s as if things are being divinely orchestrated all over the place. They appear to be happening more but perhaps they were happening all along. Please don’t get me wrong, life is also a deeply challenging experience. It’s not reserved for what we as humans may perceive as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ or ‘magical’. Nature herself is a balance of the beautiful and the brutal and everything else in between, to ignore that would be to blind ourselves to those depths. Off we drove up onto the moors, a junction appeared. Which way? To the right, we both agreed. That turned out to be a glorious choice.

IMG_4069Trusting instincts is interesting – the more you trust them, the stronger they become. Turning the corner, we were immediately greeted with the sight of several ponies. We decided to stop and get out, to see how they were all doing. Approaching them, we were firstly absolutely mesmerised by a mare who had the largest moustache I’ve ever seen. Her perfect antidote to the harsh and thorny gorse that they so love eating here. Then a stallion standing slightly in the distance, a sentinel looking across the land. He stood perfectly still but his powerful presence duly noted. We didn’t feel to go towards him so continued walking and then stopped, looking at a particular mare who was standing on her own. As I looked at her, I felt my heart twinge with sadness. As I tuned into her, I felt her sadness. Remarking on this we chatted about what we felt from her. The resounding feeling was isolation. Looking at her, she seemed so distant in herself. I felt that she was lonely and away from the herd, she didn’t know how to integrate. She was fine on her own, but that felt also like a defence mechanism – was she isolating herself, or was the herd ostracising her? That is a chicken and egg question. As we discussed this whole issue at some length, I realised how much we can often feel this as humans. I, myself could totally relate to this, and her loneliness as a result – I’ve experienced this many times. I just wanted to do something to help her. But what? I felt the most important thing to do was to send her huge love and also to work on bringing her a feeling of connection and integration with the herd. We did this together. Sending love is powerful – I’ve stood in the centre of a circle with people sending me only love and it reduced me to tears of joy, moving me deeply. Visualising her connected to many horses world-wide, not just on Dartmoor, I used that feeling of energy and presence to reassure her that she was not on her own. This was all done in my ‘minds-eye’, which, as many of you will know can be a great tool for healing and transformation. I saw her connected with other horses, connected and grounded fully to our Earth. I felt that connection running through me as I worked on it with her – as I saw her connected, I saw myself connected. This all happened very quickly but when we looked over at her again, something really subtle had changed in her posture, something felt more ‘open’, more hopeful. We noted this and feeling that she was doing better, decided to give her some space and walked up the granite covered hill.

Reaching the top, looking up, something extraordinary occurred. Running towards us with great speed and direction was a group of ponies. The joy was absolutely palpable. They ran towards us and around us and straight down to the mare we’d been working with. It was a huge sense of them having heard her longing, and our call for help – “we’re here!”. They surrounded her, nudged her, trying to get her full attention. It was fascinating to watch as they really worked with her, affirming their presence through their actions. But still, it was plain to see that she was finding it difficult to allow them really close in. This continued for quite a while as we sat down and watched. The rest of the herd, came and stood with us, being very social and edging forward. What was amazing was that they didn’t give up, and eventually, three in particular, including the stallion stood with her, nudging gently, approaching gently, encouraging her to integrate. Looking out across the land, more and more ponies were becoming visible. The sentinel stallion had really been watching several herds across the moors.

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It’s hard to explain how magical something like this can feel, how amazing it truly is. When I’m in a loop with nature, the tiny world I’m experiencing in terms of physical space can feel massive, amplified. The energy of change, the power of possibility, the extent of what is experienced and watched can be quite over-whelming. These seemingly small events can act as teachings for something far greater. For me, to see this and to have another human present to witness it unfold was life-affirming. And as we left for the next steps, we were wowed yet again. Suddenly coming across the tiny colt I’ve affectionately named ‘Gemini’. This was totally unexpected. After weeks of wondering if he was surviving these tough winter conditions and never seeing him – there he was looking strong and in great health. A complete gift in itself.

I’m really blessed to have such magical experiences with these ponies and all aspects of nature, but many are when I’m on a solitary journey. It changes and becomes somehow validated when someone else is there, it’s potency can be multiplied when sharing. To experience the joy on my journey companion’s face was unforgettable. Her delight, her recognition of the amazing transformation that had happened, was precious and was the moment of a new beginning for me. Our animals are incredible teachers, and very willing teachers too. When we’re able to open our eyes, our hearts and our minds to what is possible and what is not always explainable, there is a vast array of wisdom that is knocking at our doors in every single moment. Blink and we miss it. But there are always, always more experiences and more teachings to be had. This is the direction that my vocation takes me in. Not just to witness these events for myself and with the camera, but to share them much more with the world and moving into being a guide for others to have their own experiences. That day, my direction changed and took a new fork in the road. Boy am I glad we took that right turn.

With gratitude and love, and for this blissful fellow Gemini, who wowed the day even more with his unexpected presence. And for this moustache….. the greatest gorse protector I’ve ever seen!

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Fi x

© Fi Takács 2018

Bluebell In The Gorse

What could be more delightful than bumping into a great friend of yours? I think of ‘Bluebell’ as no less than that, even though she is one of the ponies of Dartmoor. And what if your friend had a great, great surprise waiting on a particular day that you knew nothing about….

For the past year or so, Bluebell as I’ve affectionately named her has become one of the particular characters that I seek out here. She has the most exquisite eyes and she is a wonderful, eccentric soul. From the first meeting with her when I had just started going out with my camera seriously, she was just there. She stood and seemed to pose and stop for me to click away. She made things very, very easy. She made it ALL look easy. I’m so glad for that because Bluebell gave me a wonderful insight, early on as to what is possible with them when the connection is flowing. I can say from experience, that from working around many of these ponies now – all are not the same. Some you can get nearer to than others. Bluebell, for me, is an ambassador for the horse-human connection. And I say horse, because, to me, regardless of size, these are all horses in spirit. The ponies that I have the privilege of connecting with here are huge in their personalities and their energy, sometimes three times their physical stature or more. Bluebell is no exception – she tends to win the hearts of humans effortlessly. She allows people very close to her indeed. And I’ll say it once again – not all ponies are the same. Some you need to spend hours around, building trust and then they may just start to approach. Others may never let you close. And that is a great thing to remember because it means that I take nothing for-granted and do not assume that it’s my right to go right in and take what I want whether that’s a photo, a touch, or closeness. When I’m on the moors, when I’m around all animals – for the most part it is a dance of working out what is ok, what is not. When to move forward, when to step back. Intuition and trusting gut instincts is paramount. Sometimes those signals and feelings are subtle, sometimes they are deafening.

Yesterday I went out to the moors for the first time in three weeks with my camera. After a period of time without a car, I was champing at the proverbial bit to find those wild-ones. I went way up onto the moors and came across a herd that I’ve spent a lot of time with now, building relationships with them. But there are always new members to navigate each visit so it keeps me on my toes. I noticed yesterday how incredibly interactive the ponies were, they simply wanted to come in very close indeed. A young and highly spirited colt spent a long time edging forward, eventually to sniff my head and nibble my hat. IMG_0986.JPGIt was a gorgeous, gorgeous moment because the time had been spent to allow that to happen. And for it to happen I had to be OK with all the other herd members too. Being amongst them when this happens is hard to describe. I often find myself with tears in my eyes, recognising how special it is to be so close. Nothing is taken for-granted, because it can also change in a moment if they get distracted or spooked or if they just plain fancy a gallop with the rest of the herd. What is peaceful can change on the flip of a coin. This is a process. I haven’t arrived anywhere, it will always be ongoing and surprising. Perhaps that is part of what draws me in closer and closer – it feels real, it is ‘out of control’, but for us in our often over-controlled modern world, this feels a vital teaching. It’s extremely valuable to learn to be more in the ‘moment’.

Driving homeward I stopped at the place I saw Bluebell last. This is the place where I’d taken a longer walk and fallen into the mire briefly. This is a place where those ponies are pretty well protected as there is a lot of unstable ground in terms of walking there, it is super-boggy in places. I walked along and saw the herd on the hill and a solitary pony having a snooze near some gorse. As I looked up, a mare began trotting and then galloping towards me, making lots of whinnying along the way. She stopped right in front of me and was extremely curious as to whether I had brought anything along food-wise. Several more of the herd did exactly the same thing, catching the excitement of this first mare.IMG_1212 They ran over and nuzzled me, gave me a bit of a barge and hung out a while – it was so exhilarating! I could not see Bluebell anywhere and imagined that she was far up on the tor with the others I could see in the murky light. And then…. then I heard a rustling and I looked into the gorse thicket where one pony had been standing all along. And the most incredibly exciting feeling washed over me as I saw Bluebell. And then…. and then, joy of absolute joys….. I saw the tiniest foal. Incredibly tiny and very young, maybe a day or so.

The most delightful news that I wish to share with you is that Bluebell has had a foal! The most beautiful colt. And he is much like her – curious, friendly and rather eccentric. Spending time around one so young, being circled and held within the herd as they are and I was, has a magic that I will never, ever be able to put a value on. The experience of that has lit up my heart and soul in a way that I can’t describe. My delight for her, for the herd and for my own self being lucky to experience this is huge. That beautiful colt tried to approach me but I just didn’t want him to get too close. Something about that didn’t feel OK just yet for me. But I swear he recognised my voice because his response to me calling for his mother was one of familiarity and warmth. He held absolutely no fear. Of course, all the time she has been pregnant I’ve been around her periodically and chatted away to her about how beautiful she is, how many humans are touched by her ways. We often hear about talking to human babies in the womb. I had not realised that I was talking to Bluebell’s unborn whilst I was around her all this year. There was me thinking that she had been eating rather a lot of the moorland goodies and she was in foal.

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As I stood with the them all, tears filled my eyes. Tears of joy, tears of surprise, tears of recognition of the incredible honour of being there with them at such a vulnerable moment. I smiled and smiled inside. I congratulated my friend and her herd, telling them how grateful I was to be there with them and how excited I was for them to have new life in their world. I also worried for that tiny soul, will he make it through the winter, will he be OK? And then I watched as he played and teased his mother, springing around like a mountain goat. This is how it is to love. The fear of loss is immediate, but love we must – no matter what, these ponies teach me so much about love and loss and everything else in between. Everything is subject to change. And I thought to myself… with this family, with this protection and love around him, his wild, tenacious spirit and with those instincts. He just may make it. I do so very dearly hope so…..

 

With gratitude to Bluebell and her incredible herd. And for the new colt that has arrived, long may you remain little one. What a delight to share in the wonder of new life with the ponies of Dartmoor.

Fi x

 

All images are my own and therefore respectfully © Fi Takács

Fine Art Giclée Prints of photographs are also for sale. All beautiful, high quality prints and limited edition. Do contact me for further info –  Connect