"I stood by an alder looking out over the fields. A lone lapwing described its call in flight and the sky reminded me of a burnt out August."
Needwood is about our enduring relationship with nature. Rooted in the long tradition of British nature writing, it has a gentle but unrelenting focus on the landscape and the natural world, and the benefits we derive from them. The natural health service of Needwood lies in what was the wild and ancient Needwood Forest, used for hunting by kings, but now deforested to an ordinary rural English landscape with no obvious grandeur, wilderness or drama. So the ordinary things are enjoyed: the oak, the rook, the river; the solace of the risings, the calm of the water meadows and the lifeless hedgerows of winter under a leaden sky.
To set the scene for the year in search of ordinary things there is a short tour of predecessors with an attentive, visceral eye for nature. Such as Emerson who found pleasure in the "glory and gloom" of winter scenery and changes in the landscape that occur and are gone in every passing moment. The link between well-being and nature is explored with a journey a little way into our internal world in order to help our appreciation of our external world.
Needwood is about the discovery of the natural year and a journey to discover deep nature in the local landscape. The year starts by recording the detail of winter, a time of no reply, before connecting with nature’s spring and finding deep nature in the flesh of the Earth. Then comes the darkness of midsummer, the joy of repeatedly exploring the landscape and witnessing the stealing of summer as the landscape flows into the mind and nature's voice is heard.