Behind 56 acres of King’s Cross development, the Camley Street nature reserve observes a maniacal cacophony of crane, drill and truck with relative impunity. The social stigma of wasteland wilderness that has blighted both King and Saint is its salvation, for this is the London Wildlife Trust’s flagship site, which, by virtue of environmental status, has stood its ground against bulldozing levellers.
Nothing is sacrosanct however, and a new canal bridge entrance has planning approval, enabling pedestrian and cycle traffic to traverse from side to side. Rare and biodiverse wildlife thrives here probably because Camley Street only has a single, offbeat access which by its very nature, controls frequency of footfall. Thus there is resistance to the proposals but the pay-off is a new Visitor Centre and time will tell, too late perhaps, what effects a thoroughfare will have here.
Meanwhile, amongst the tapestry of woodland, reedbed, pond and meadow, adults and children come to learn about ecosystems, identifying wildlife species and basic bushcraft whilst creatures and passers-by alike, enjoy all the amenities of a 2 acre rural habitat in the metropolis.
Some days though are deserted…Frozen in time and February, holding aquatic plants in a cryogenic grip, when gloved fingers stiffen and waterfowl swim half-heartedly beyond the shallows
when pond life lies locked beneath ice layers, rippled and textured like a cooled lava flow
And when it is even too cold to coppice the Hazel trees for fencing and dead hedging, then it’s ideal for collecting unusable wood, broken nest boxes and diseased hive combs for a cleansing conflagration. In a fire pit hollow, a spark of life is lit and bellowed with cold air, the smouldering tempted with tinder until a burning appetite roars for dead limb and timber stumps.
Time for a fireside lunch of soup and some Aesop as one fable rises from the wayward smoke:-
One bitter winter, a man lost his way in a woodland. As he roamed about, he met a Satyr who offered him food and hospitality and a guided way out of the forest in the morning. So the two went along to the Satyr’s den. As they did so, the Man would raise both his hands to his mouth and blow on them. “What do you do that for?” said the Satyr. “My hands are numb with the cold,” said the Man, “and my breath warms them.”
Once they’d arrived at the den, the Satyr put a smoking dish of soup before him. But when the Man raised his spoon to his mouth he began blowing upon it. “And what do you do that for?” said the Satyr. “The soup is too hot, and my breath will cool it.”
“Out you go,” said the Satyr. “I will have nought to do with a man who can blow hot and cold with the same breath.” 1
And the moral is obvious but…those seeking consistency could be missing out on adaptability!
Coming up this week is a newer, replacement computer which means I shall be off the airways for a while but I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day and hope that Love blows your way, neither too hot nor too cold.
Such is the pow’r of love in gentle mind
that it can alter all the course of kind” 2