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  • I met him in the woodlands, years ago. I'd come upon him without him seeing me as he was bending over and sticking something into the ground. He was a giant of a man, his full camouflage clothing made him blend in with the surroundings. I walked on towards him.

    He was surprised to see me in the foul weather, and in such a remote place. And he was suspicious.

    I explained I was working as a photographer and that I had permission from the landowner to be there. And that today was wonderful, gale force winds whipping trees to and fro and blowing waterfalls vertical in the gusts. Elemental and satisfying.

    He smiled. "I'm the Estate stalker and gamekeeper" he told me. He looked at my cameras and said "I've got a little video camera, here" and pulled it from his pocket.

    "They're very good" I said. "What are you filming?"

    He looked carefully at me, sizing me up. Then said "I'm retiring in a few weeks, after 50 years of working on this Estate, with knackered hips and ruined knees from pulling deer off the hill and working in all weathers. But I'm going to miss the place, badly. So I've been filming all the places I love so that I can sit at home and revisit them when I can no longer walk."

    We stood together silently amidst the roar of wind and whipping trees, rain spattering our heads.

    "What were you doing bending over?" I asked, curious.

    He put his hand in his pocket and pulled acorn.

    "I pick them up whenever I see them. Then when I see a place that needs an oak tree, I push an acorn into the soil."

    I smiled and felt a prickle run up my spine.

    He looked at me again and said "I just want to leave something behind me.....for the future"

    We parted and went our ways.

    I have a son now. He loves oak trees.
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