I thought the Chance Wood volunteers need a bit of a treat this month so I arrived an hour or so early, photographed the area we were going to work on and started to cut back the rhododendron. I soon produced a pile big enough to start to cut into the small straight pieces that are essential to get a fire going; my aim was to present them with a small fire that they could soon enjoy enlarging to get rid of the rest of the rhododendron we were going to clear. Despite realising I’d forgotten the kindling, I soon had a small blaze going ready to hand over to Carl, our ex-scout and fireman.
After a couple of hours clearing, burning and cake-eating we settled down to watch the fire burn down. We got to talking about the reserve and how long some of us had been using it. One volunteer mentioned how, many years ago, they had often come to sit in the reserve and clear their head of problems and worries, they explained that they always felt there was a quiet spot to sit unnoticed and that they somehow felt safer in the reserve than elsewhere. I was reminded of how surprised I was when an apparently very self-assured acquaintance confided in me that he always came to the wood to sit surrounded by ‘nature’ while he sorted out his problems. I know of at least two other people who have told me that the wood helped them through difficult times and a couple who wanted their ashes scattered in the wood because it was so special to them.
The Wildlife Trust takes on the ownership of pieces of land and calls them nature reserves for a variety of reasons: most often to try to provide a haven for a particularly threatened species or assemblage of different species, ultimately with the hope that they may eventually return to the wider countryside. There are no rare or threatened species in Chance Wood; it does, however, provide a haven where people can regenerate and draw a little strength from the natural world, hopefully to go out and champion the natural world in their everyday lives.
...oh, and we cleared all that rhododendron too!
Roger, Chance Wood