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Updated: Mar 30, 2021

Our fifth focus in this outdoor storying challenge!

"If the oak before the ash, then we'll only have a splash, if the ash before the oak, then we'll surely have a soak"? - Old English Rhyme

Welcome to our 'Fairytrails' challenge! If you would like a quick outline of what this is all about, click here! If you're ready to go - let's do it!

Recognising ash...

It's not an easy task to identify trees in winter, but you can have a good go with the following bits of information:

  • They can grow up to 35 m tall and they often grow together.

  • The bark is pale brown to grey and splits (fissures) can be seen as the tree ages.

  • In winter, look for its smooth twigs that have black, velvety leaf buds arranged opposite each other, and clusters of seeds that hang like bunches of keys.

  • Use Flora Incognita or the Woodland Trust app to help you be certain that what you are looking at is, in fact, an ash tree!

When you pop out for your walk and finally find your ash, you might be interested to know:

  • It's the third most common tree in Britain.

  • We are in a race against time to find ways to help combat ash dieback. This is a fungi that is predicted to destroy 80% of our ash trees in Britain which will be devastating. It's all about researching resistant strains now.

  • People used to give tiny babies being given a spoonful of sap and sick children were passed through a cleft in the tree if they were poorly.

  • This cleft was often made in the tree and bound up to 'heal' alongside the person (who often felt an intimate connection with it and became very protective of 'their' ash tree.

  • They used to make spears out of ash wood.

  • The Viking mythological 'World Tree' - Yggdrasil - was an ash tree. A squirrel called Ratatoskr ran up and down the tree carrying messages, a deer fed on the ash leaves and from its antlers flowed the great rivers of the world, a magical goat grazed beside it with udders providing mead for warriors, and it is said that the gods held their councils under its canopy!

Now's the time for a tale...

Click here to listen to the fabulous storyteller Dawn Nelson (DD Storyteller) share her version of the Norse Creation Myth in my podcast 'Trees, Seeds and Rivers of Milk'.

Outdoor storying challenge #5:

OPTION 1: Can you catch Ratatoskr (the mythical squirrel) on camera? Here's some extra info to help you identify him. See how many squirrel pictures you can get and send them over to us!

OPTION 2: 1. Try out some twig ID with this twig identification wheel!

Bushcraft, podcasts and other things that might interest you...

Happy outdoor storying y'all! Let us know how you get on!

Pridie, Elva & Adelind :)

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