Hello!

Hello my name is Emma! I am a writer, artist and occupational therapist. I work for Converge and for the last five years have been working in partnership with the beautiful St Nicks in York to deliver a creative writing class, as part of their full time eco-therapy programme which you can read more about here.

Each creative writing course lasts for 10 weeks. We usually work to a theme and have explored many different aspects of nature such as:

  • Winter Solace – exploring the beauty of nature through the dark winter months.
  • Wild Birds and Woodland Folklore – using the mythology surrounding nature.
  • Hidden Treasure – looking at the hidden workers of the natural world.
  • Nature Journaling – keeping sketch books and journals observing nature.

This blog is a platform to share the natural world with others. Running the class has never ceased to amaze me. Having started the class with a limited knowledge of plants and wildlife, I now have a fantastic community of people around me who are equally inspired and interested. We have learnt so many new things and raised so many interesting and at times comical questions – such as ‘Do spiders have noses?’…..more about that later!

Please join me for a weekly online creative writing class. Every Wednesday I will be posting a set of instructions that I normally use in my class. We usually start with a walk in nature, followed by four short tasks that are no longer than five to ten minutes each. Those who want to then share their work. (You can post yours into the comments box at the end of the weekly class post).

I encourage you to log in, have a go at the tasks and engage with the natural world around you (even if it’s just starting with looking at the clouds through your window, or finding new love for a house plant!).

If you are really inspired and want to send me a letter, a poem, or a photograph of your own special green space for me to publish on here, you are welcome to email me at: e.mckenzie1@yorksj.ac.uk or you can write to me sending your own words and drawings to:

Emma McKenzie
Letters from the Allotment
C/o Converge
York St John University
Lord Mayor's Walk,
York
YO31 7EX

Featured letters from your own green spaces will be posted up every Friday!
The first class will be published on here on the 25.03.2020

Happy Writing!
Best wishes,
Emma

Published by Emma

Hi my name is Emma! I am a writer and artist. I work for the NHS at Converge (www.yorksj.ac.uk/converge) and I am also an MA graduate in Creative writing and am currently studying for a PhD in Humanities. I have been leading a creative writing class at the beautiful St Nicks in York (www.stnicks.org.uk) for the last five years. When I am not at work I'm on my allotment or at Base Camp (my home) planning new adventures.

12 thoughts on “Hello!

  1. Hello everyone! And thank you, Emma, for inviting me to join in.

    At the moment my favourite tree isn’t, strictly speaking, a tree at all, but a shrub. It’s a hawthorn. Not any old hawthorn, but one paticular Midland Hawthorn. It lives in a corner of Acomb Wood, just over the fence from some new houses, and just down the road from where I live.
    I love this dainty tree for all sorts of reasons. For a start, it shouldn’t really be there at all. Midland Hawthorns are a different species from the ones we usually see. The name provides a clue: these shrubs are rare in Yorkshire. Rare enough, in fact, for me to have got pretty excited when I first encountered this one. (Yes – I know I’m a total tree geek).
    I say “at the moment” because another thing that makes “my” solitary Midlander special is that it is already coming into flower. It will be another couple of weeks before the other hawthorns blossom. When they do, the sheer profusion of honeyed scent they produce will be almost overpowering in its sickly sweetness. By contrast, my shrub has a much more subtle appeal to the senses. This effect is enhanced by the pink tinge of its flowers, relative lack of thorns, and the way in which its stems droop elegantly downwards like a weeping willows’.
    I wish I could say Midland Hawthorn tasted better, too; but I can’t. Its leaves are tasty when very young, with a cucumber-like flavour; however, I must admit that other hawthorns’ leaves are equally good in salads. That apart, I feel entitled to be especially fond of the little tree I found down my neck of the woods. Maybe this is only because, like it, I’m a just another softie southerner.

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    1. Hi Sean, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful words and once we can all go out again I will be off to visit your tree / shrub ❤️ Perhaps we could use the ‘three words app to help each other locate our favourite trees. I particularly love the mythology surrounding hawthorn trees – did you know they are meant to guard the entrance ways to fairy land? That’s a whole other writing session….! It’s made my day seeing you here. Best wishes Emma

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s really kind, Emma. At first I was really annoyed that I couldn’t post any pics of my hawthorn. (I’m just getting the hang of this WP thingy). It was a challenge -though an enjoyable one – to put together twords on the page in a less sllapdash way than usual. Please let me know if you’d like the pics as well. I’ll look up the three words app that you mention.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Emma, From my home no garden doth surround me , just concrete and windows staring back until the cherry blossom blooms pink purity then my eyes are filled full the whole window space filled in naturally with the beauty of ssentimentally a very most favourite tree right since childhood it’s been following me. Thankyou for the inclusion

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    1. Hello Bev! So lovely to connect online! Thank you for this gorgeous imagery of pink blossom, a favourite of mine too. I love it when it falls like confetti and swirls around the streets. ❤️ It’s brightened my day getting your message, kindest regards Emma 🙂

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  3. Hi Emma, just a quick one from the first task set out on here. I do have trees where I live now but thought it may be rather more interesting to write regarding my trees from my childhood. Many Thanks. Kevin
    The trees are my friends.

    As a child I was extremely fortunate to live opposite the village football field, it was surrounded by a single row of trees, beyond the field lay a small quite dense forest. Hard to believe now because it would be forty years ago maybe more but I knew each and every one of those trees by heart. Silly? Maybe not considering for one I had a very vivid imagination and the second reason was that in those days computer games and the endless indoor activities available these days had not even been thought of. The football field was my playground and the trees my friends. I could go to any one of them and instantly recognize every feature from the rustic, musky aroma of the bark to the branches sweeping out like tentacles from a central pillar. I would frequently play with my toy cars among the roots and each tree supplied a different scenario for the playtime. Along with the other boys (and the occasional girl) we used to climb the trees. Each tree had its own particular route and had to be rigidly adhered to lest one of us got to a certain point where any further attempt to gain height would be scuppered. The trees have all gone now, felled to make way for the new houses that also claimed the football pitch. Had they still been there it would have been a tremendous, exciting adventure to view them all once more. The trees at Barmby Moor….my friends.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Kev, thank for sharing this memory, which was a really evocative read. This week’s class is going to have a theme of miniature worlds …your writing about the tree roots and cars was really inspiring – thinking about that theme. Thank you so much for sharing. Best wishes Emma

      Liked by 1 person

  4. 10 Good uses for a stick!

    Flute
    Water diviner
    Bow (as in arrow)
    Bow (as in violin)
    Picture frame
    Title of a song (Four Sticks by Led Zeppelin)
    To start fire
    To make unusual Christmas decorations
    To make a small coffee table (big sticks)
    To eat (remember the liquorice root sticks?)

    Liked by 2 people

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