With the mistletoe

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With the mistletoe

 

A few years back I went on a walk with my father. The Avon was running with its usual mild ferocity, neither fast nor slow, the kind of course that trances you, movements so synonymous to your step that you may just as well be in the flow itself.

‘Mistletoe,’ my father said, pulling me from the river. ‘Do you see? Up there in that poplar.’

I turned my gaze to the bordering forest. ‘I’m not sure what I’m looking at Dad.’

‘Mistletoe, there,’ he pointed once more, beyond the dark trunk of a nearby poplar and its splaying limbs, high into the tree’s canopy. ‘You see those balls of foliage?’

I nodded. ‘That’s mistletoe?’

‘Yes. It’s a parasite, feeds off the nutrients of the host tree.’

I was amazed. What had always been a showpiece, hung from the rafters of a wintering home, was now alive, bathed in the inspiring light of context. I had never known its place in the world, merely assumed. What a marvel it was to see that mistletoe, hanging from nature’s very own rafters. From the ground, in the safe arms of my subconscious, I climbed towards it– climbed upon it, examined its contours, its berries, its leaves, its parasitic tendrils rife upon its host. 

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Fire after snow

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Fire after snow, acrylic paper (Daniel Graham)

There are few things more rewarding in life than a log fire after a day in the snow.

 

 

 

Hornbeam amidst the moor

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Hornbeam amidst the moor, acrylic on card (Daniel Graham)

Amidst the great open moorland there stood a hornbeam, its limbs reaching out for winter. The air was cold, and with this chill I felt my cheeks tighten. I walked towards the tree for some minutes, first entering its breathing ground, and then, a minute beyond that, its lichen-stippled trunk. I sat beneath the hornbeam’s brittle wood and listened on as three crows came to rest above my head, their movements knocking small twigs to the ground around me.

Hiking the Overland Track, Tasmania

Overland Track, Tasmania

There are few places in the world more diverse, wild and enigmatic than Tasmania, Australia’s island state. Several years back I hiked the Overland Track, an 80-kilometre traverse of the island’s western mountains through the Cradle Mountain-Lake Sinclair National Park.

Tasmanian Wildlife Identification Chart

Tasmanian Wildlife Identification Chart

It was the middle of winter, and whilst the track is popular in the summer months, with some 8,000 enthusiasts completing the distance each year, we had the mountains to ourselves. Initially bemused by the solitude, we swiftly gained a little light on the matter as the path ascended and drifts of snow began to drown the way. What should have been a four-day stroll, ended up being an eight-day trudge through waist-deep snow and sub-zero nights, a mishap that gifted me with one of the greatest hikes of my life.

I could write tirelessly about the wonders of the Overland Track in winter – its curious wildlife, temperate rainforest and its majestic mountains – but will instead let the photographs and sketches do the talking, beginning with a Tasmania Wildlife Identification Chart.

Reflections of a bog

Reflections of a bog

Snowy mountains, Tasmania

Snowy mountains

Highland plateaus

Highland plateaus

Rising mist

Rising mist

Frozen tropics

Frozen tropics

Outcrops

Outcrops

Hidden paths of the Overland

Hidden paths of the Overland

Translucency

Translucency

Wallaby in the snow

Wallaby in the snow

Waterfalls beside the Overland Track

Waterfalls beside the Overland Track

Sunset from a cabin

Sunset from a cabin