Nova's Cabin

Nova’s Cabin

The new cabin is currently being erected at Sun Rising.  Made almost entirely of wood, with waney edged green oak boards and a cedar shingle roof, the cabin will provide us with a small place where I can meet with families to talk about ideas, hopes, plans and wishes,  to arrange funerals and memorials, to share a moment’s conversation, and in winter perhaps to warm hands and toes.

There is also an eco-composting toilet in the cabin.  This has little of the white ceramic elegance of a twenty-first century convenience, but it is a brilliant piece of design: a toilet that needs no sewerage, no water, no electricity.  It can also be placed near water courses, like the little brook that runs along the side of the burial ground, as, being entirely self-contained, it poses no risk of pollution.  And all it creates is compost!  Let’s see how it works in practice.

The cabin won’t be staffed all the time, so the toilet – accessible only through the office – won’t be available except if there is a member of staff on site.  However, whenever we are there, the five-bar gate will be open: so pop in and say hello!

Here’s a picture of the construction in process …

Nova's Cabin

Building Nova’s Cabin at Sun Rising

After the Haycut

Mowing the Meadow

There is something so paradoxical about this period of harvest.  At Sun Rising, to some, the wildflowers might now look tatty, going to seed, without the colours of early summer, but in other ways their heavy load of dark seed is so precious.  Long grasses may look messy in our gardens, but at the nature reserve the wild grasses, now dry and golden, picking up the slightest movement of the breeze, are a beautiful expression of the natural world.  As the combine harvesters rumble through the fields of wheat and barley, we too have been cutting, mowing the meadows and strimming down the year’s growth.  Some of the hay has been strewn over new graves, helping the gentle processes of spreading the seeds.  So, though we may feel a sorrow as the summer comes to its end, there is beauty too, in areas now cut short and tidy, in the first turning of the young saplings’ leaves, the guelder rose turning burgundy red, the bramble berries full of promise.

Mowing is always a wonderful time for the community of Sun Rising too, when volunteers come and help with the raking, many of whom have loved ones laid to rest beneath the grasses and knapweed, the teasels and clover.  This year we had a lovely crowd once again, not just bringing muscles and determination, but respect, love and care, not to forget the exquisite chocolate brownies.  Thank you to each and every one.

The photo here (with thanks to Eric Lown) is taken towards the end of the day when the main wildflower meadows are all done.

After the Haycut

After the Haycut

The last burial areas, the war memorial, the pond and around the hedges, will continue to be cut over the coming month.

Clouds and Grasses at Sun Rising

Clouds and Grasses

Even on miserable days, the clouds at Sun Rising can be inspiring.  When life feels heavy, and little lifts the soul out of the grey, the ridge of Sun Rising Hill creates that thermal, breaking up the skies, and offering us moments of wonder.

Clouds and Grasses at Sun Rising

Clouds and Grasses at Sun Rising

I love this photograph.  Not only does it show beautifully the rich diversity of cloud shapes and colours, but beneath it the many grasses of the wildflower meadow, now thoroughly run to seed.  There is the tall false oat grass, the tight crested dogstail, the whiskered meadow barley and soft yorkshire fog, amongst a handful more I couldn’t identify for sure.

Nature is always a beautiful mixture of beauty in both its intricate detail and its vast expanses.

Sun Rising Newt

Newts

Although the development of the pond at Sun Rising is still slow, we did spot some newtlets earlier in the year.  Now those little creatures are turning into newts …

Sun Rising Newt

Sun Rising Newt

Stormclouds over the Roundhouse

Clouds

A beautiful photo taken of the Roundhouse, the seeding grasses in the wind, just before a summer storm …

Stormclouds over the Roundhouse

Stormclouds over the Roundhouse

Roses by the Roundhouse

Roses and the Meadow

After such a long hard winter, and such a slow start to the summer, the wildflower meadow burst into life in early June and was a blaze of colour for a wonderful six weeks.  The roses were better than ever before, both the wild dog roses and field roses in the hedgerows and on graves, and the David Austin roses around the Roundhouse.  Rosa rubus comes into flower first, and then Rosa Frances E Lester, shown here in the photograph.

Roses by the Roundhouse

Roses by the Roundhouse

With a month of such hot and dry weather in July, however, the season has been a short one, the wildflowers going to seed very early.  You can see knapweed here in the photograph, a few oxeye daisies, betony, and buttercups, amidst the seeding wild grasses.  It is now the thistles that are coming through, the teasels flowering, the field scabious and meadow cranesbill bringing soft mauves and purples to the burial ground through the tall hay of the grasses, playing in the wind.  And around the edges, there are the soft pinks of the bramble flowers and willowherbs.  The older crab apples are also now fruiting – memorial trees that are over five years old.

And thankfully the butterflies, hoverflies and bees, so late in appearing, are now with us in abundance.  Meadow browns, gatekeepers, whites, small skippers, small heath butterflies, and a whole range of moths I can’t begin to identify.  If you come up to Sun Rising, you’ll see the meadows going to seed, beautifully tatty with such subtle colours and lines, and the whole thing humming with life.

We shall begin to mow over the coming weeks, first strimming the grasses that have fallen in wind and rain, and under footfall.  If you have any queries, do let us know.

Here Again!

With apologies to those who have been used to getting news of Sun Rising through these blog posts – although irregular, I was managing to put a note out now and then!

Over the last months, the whole system has been down, and I have not had the resources to get it up and running again.  But now, thanks to David’s time and patience, we are back on line.

Please forgive the interlude then, and I shall do my best to keep postings more frequent from here on.

Yellow Flowers

It was in March that the first of the daffodils came out at Sun Rising, and almost immediately the site was covered with a foot of snow.  I worried that many of them wouldn’t make it through that very cold period, but over a month later there are still daffodils out.

yellow spring

Now the dandelions are coming out!  And yes, there are still too many of them at Sun Rising.  We have removed some, but there are  areas which are again becoming monocultures, which isn’t good for the ecosystem.  Nonetheless, they do look beautiful for a while!

The larger cherries are coming into flower as well, offering some white flowers to the profusion of yellow, but the soft new leaves of the hawthorn and willow are still almost yellow.  After a burst of spring rain, the place just sparkles in the sunlight, every flower shining with its yellow brilliance.

Flowerbuds on the Blackthorn

Spring’s Buds

After a few beautifully warm March days, we have the soft drizzle once again.  For those who feel the damp in their bones, these are difficult days, full of aches and niggles, and when we are coping with grief as well grey skies don’t help.

What does help, I think, are the signs of spring that so reassure us that ahead of us lie warm dry days.  At the burial ground, along with the snowdrops and primroses, the first daffodils have flower buds swelling which, with another day of sunshine, will burst open in all their golden glory.

Other buds are also full of promise.  The cherries are pushing out their spiky leaf buds, the red leaf buds on the roses are beginning too, and the black leaf buds of the ash are growing every day.  On the hawthorn, the leaf buds are pinky red, and the creamy buds on the blackthorn are suddenly spreading over their grey thorny twigs: these are flower buds, and in a few weeks with a little more sunshine they will open bringing a froth of white to the hedgerows.

Flowerbuds on the Blackthorn

Flowerbuds on the Blackthorn at Sun Rising

I know we could all use some warm dry weather.  Until it comes, let us find strength in nature’s beauty and her promise of renewal!