The “pannage” season


A gilded autumn day when light is full-bodied and oak trees are bronze, on the edge of leaf fall. Their massy limbs are still partially shielded. There’s the sense of space and the movement of light as we tilt towards winter. The moments with the oak tree are an infinity; suspended in space. The mass of the tree is held in autumn light and one can sense the lift of its branches, its substance against the sky.

For much of the time trees are mere components of the scene. They are a cardboard cut-out shape. A block of plain or glinting colour that is a backdrop to foreground incidents. They are functional providers of shade. Today is lifted up. The oak is hero, at stage centre, and as the observer I am very little.

Postscript. My brother tells me that this year the oak trees in the New Forest have had a huge crop of acorns. This is the “pannage” season when pigs are turned out to gorge themselves on acorns. Unfortunately, ponies like them too, and can even die from over-indulgence. This year the pigs can’t cope with the excess and 47 New Forest ponies have died. The “pannage” season has been extended to the 15th December to try and clear the acorns. Sometimes Nature is just too bountiful.

Susan A. Tindall


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