Originally published December 2008
Hello everyone! For this final article of ’08, I want to reflect on beginnings, endings and the seasons.
It is with great sadness that we have to acknowledge the end of an era with the passing away of John Hicks in October. Not known to many people in the village, John played a key role in the development of Quarry Wood as a nature reserve. He was one of the founding members, and Chairman for the past twenty-seven years, of the Powdermill Trust for Nature Conservation. The Trust was approached by the village, when the site was purchased, and asked to devise and implement a management plan. That was eight years ago, and a willing band of volunteers carry on the good work to this day. Up until now we have had the benefit of John’s guidance and expertise in many areas. He was able to identify trees, ferns, fungi, higher plants, birds and butterflies to species level with consummate ease. His enthusiasm as a naturalist was infectious and his ability to work all day on the reserves, even at the age of eighty, was inspiring. You will be sorely missed, John.
Perhaps the greatest achievement (and fitting legacy for John) for a conservationist is to ensure that the work is carried on by the next generation. I recently had the honour of helping in this process with our own School “Foxes”. The class of seven and eight year olds walked all the way to the Reserve (well organised, Mrs Wastell!) and we spent an enjoyable hour together talking about plants and animals and their habitats. I certainly did not need to work at firing up their enthusiasm for the subject! We kicked our way through the brown and gold leaves strewn at our feet looking at badger and rabbit holes and wondered at the strange fungal shapes on the trees.
Mother Nature exhibited an admirable sense of humour on the day. Deer and badger tracks I had spied in the pond bed no’ but a week afore were lying several inches under water! In the light of all my previous reports on the alarming decline in the water level, this was a delicious irony.
Needless to say, I look forward with anticipation to further school trips in Spring and Summer.
J. K. Jerome could almost have had our little reserve in mind with this extract from Three Men in a Boat:
“Dear old Quarry Woods! With your narrow, climbing paths, and little winding glades, how scented to this hour you seem with memories of sunny summer days! How haunted are your shadowy vistas with the ghosts of laughing faces! How from your whispering leaves there softly fall the voices of long ago!”
Happy Christmas to one and all.
from the Foxes Class at Crowhurst Primary School