Writer Sophie Pierce, with photographer Kate Mount, has produced a written and photographic record of dawn visits to Sharpham Meadow overlooking the River Dart in Devon, where her son Felix is buried. The work is an attempt to explore how nature, time and mortality are linked.
In the first instalment, written in November 2021, Sophie makes a posey of garden herbs:
November 7 th 2021
At this time of year there are no flowers in the garden, so I raid the herbs instead. I get my scissors and go and cut sprigs of rosemary and sage. Rosemary for remembrance. Sage for wisdom and immortality. I tie the small bunch of herbs with some string and hold it in my hand. I enjoy the act of picking the plants and making a bouquet. I am actively doing something to remember Felix, by taking him a gift.
I reach the Green Hill just before dawn. There is a blanket of grey cloud but the sun breaks through, creating a watery fieriness on the horizon. There are strange vertical columns of grey cloud, a bit like static tornados. The place is deserted. Felix’s grave is unadorned, save for the bedraggled flowers I left last time. At this time of year, nothing grows on the grave.
His headstone, a flat piece of slate, is wet. It’s been rainy and damp this month. I lay the small bunch of herbs down on it, the pale greens of the herbs a quiet contrast with the dark grey slate.
I wander down the field and look down at the river. It is full, with a dull reflection of trees. This is a strange month, a non-month, a time when we endure.
The project goes on to document a year of visits to the meadow, the changing seasons reflected in the posies Sophie ties and leaves at Felix’s grave — forsythia and rosemary giving way to pillowy home-grown roses.
You can view the project in its beautiful entirety here.
Kate Mount is a documentary photographer known for her work recording the cultural life of the Dartington Hall Estate in Devon, and in particular for her portraits of musicians. See more of her work here.
Sophie Pierce’s memoir The Green Hill: Letters to a son explores grief and our relationship with wild places. She’s also the co-author of 5 wild swimming guides, the latest of which, Wild Swimming Walks Exmoor and North Devon, is coming out in April 2024. Visit her website here.