Friday, September 24, 2004

The Fens - a sense of place

He looks friendly - lets take a closer look Posted by Hello

Having lived on the edge of the fens now for 17 years I am beginning to understand their appeal and to appreciate the connections a person can have with their local environment.

Despite such a huge proportion of the fens still being subject to intensive agriculture there are small occurrences of special places which give you a feeling what the ancient landscape must have looked like.

At Flag Fen on the outskirts of Peterborough I have attended two years of evening lectures by some of the worlds most enthusiastic and dedicated archeologists including the great Francis Prior and his wife Maissie Taylor (get well soon Maissie)telling tales of marshes and causeways, of swords and bronze age huts. The connection with the moon has begun to fascinate me, especially the possibility that the causeways were re-built every lunar eclipse. see The Future in the Past.

THe picture above was however taken at Chippenham Fen, one of our National Nature Reserves. I had the immense privilege of meeting these two wonderful creatures and a few of their friends whilst doing some story collecting about volunteers on our reserves a while back.

Just looking at the picture brings back the memories of that day so vividly. I remember slowly approaching the pond and Kevin, the assistant site manager said "don't make any quick moves if you want to get a photo because as soon as they see you they will be over to meet you". I took the photo then stood my ground as they rushed out of the pond to greet me and soaked me as they butted and smelt us.

I often wax lyrically about telling stories and drinking real ale but meeting water buffalo as nice as these takes some beating in the 'perfect job' stakes.

I'd agree this is the billboard for "perfect job." I live in the upper Mississippi River valley and have deep appreciation for the stories of the wetland landscape. My favorite pastime is haunting the various wetlands in search of birds.
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