Another Quote

“We have come to see ourselves as lords and masters of the Earth,
entitled to plunder her at will. The sickness evident in the soil,
in the water, in the air and in all forms of life are symptoms
that reflect the violence present in our hearts. We have forgotten
that we ourselves are dust of the Earth; that we breathe her air
and receive life from her waters.”

Pope Francis, 2015

Advertisements

More Quotations

“The cowman who clears his range of wolves has not learned
to think like a mountain.
Hence we have dustbowls and rivers washing the future into the sea.”

Horace, Epistles I, 20 BC

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field
till no space is left and you live alone in the land.”

Issiah 5:8

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
These quotations are also from the chapter headings to “Wilding” by Isabella Tree (see previous post)

Quotations

“Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel and our shelter, and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and the soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it.”

Atharva Veda, Sanskrit scripture, c. 1200 BC

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“The Nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt
President of the United Sates, Letter to all State Governors
on a Uniform Soil Conservation Law, 1937

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

These quotes are taken from “Wilding, the return of nature to a British farm” by Isabella Tree (2018.  ISBNNo:  978-1509805105). This is a truly inspirational book that should be read by everyone who has a care for nature. It tells it like it is and demonstrates how the degradation of nature can be reversed cheaply and simply to the benefit of all.

Why Cycle?

We went out for a 15 mile bike ride this morning on our modern road bikes. We had expected it to be fine though cold but in fact it was quite mild and sunny – sunglasses needed for the first time in ages; the sun was right in our eyes on the outward journey, still being low in the sky. We passed the spot where a big beech tree was blown down across the road in strong winds a few days ago. The road had been cleared and the main trunk lay like a beached whale in the field beside the road.

While riding I found myself pondering why I like to cycle. Obvious reasons are for fitness and to get out in the fresh air. I have always had a bike but for various reasons have not always ridden a lot, not as much as I do now. I have also always enjoyed walking but my husband now has trouble with his knees and can’t walk very far so he prefers to ride a bike, which he can do without any problems. The result is either I walk on my own, which I do from time to time, or I go with him on my bike. Fortunately we are only a stone’s throw from open countryside which is great as it only takes a few minutes to get out beyond the houses.

Another reason for cycling is that you can see so much more from a bike than you can from driving in a car. You can notice seasonal changes, for example, much more easily as you travel at a slower speed. You can, of course, notice even more walking but you can travel further on a bike in any given amount of time so have greater scope for seeing these changes.

Today, apart from the felled tree and amongst other things, I noticed how the snowdrops are still going strong, I could see bright yellow crocus in gardens that we passed and how some daffodils are already in flower whilst other are still only just pushing through. We also disturbed a bunch of rooks who flew off with their raucous chatter, though I couldn’t quite make out where the rookery was. You also get to hear the birds singing, twittering, calling – something it is near impossible to do from a car.

We did also have to negotiate a flooded road from the recent rains, always a bit risky as you don’t know how deep it is or if any pot-holes are lurking in the murky water. It stretched the full width of the road and was some 20 – 25 feet wide. Hubby went first, the water didn’t come up much more than just over the wheel rims and there didn’t seem to be any hazards so I followed on, rather too fast I think as I ended up quite well splashed!

People often cite road safety as a reason for not cycling and traffic can be a problem – we have experienced many so-called ‘close passes’ when a passing car nearly brushes your leg then cuts quickly in front rather than wait to find enough space to overtake safely. A recent article I was reading on the subject in our Cycling magazine stated that those cycling at below 10 mph were at most risk and those who are safest cycle at above 12 mph. Where does that put us? We usually ride along at a comfortable cruising speed of between 10-12 mph! This is the best speed in my opinion to not cause other traffic too many problems and yet slow enough to enjoy the environment. There is an on-going campaign to educate drivers about cyclists and encourage them to allow 1.5 metres of space when overtaking. This will be included in future editions of The Highway Code, but still only advisory – in many European countries it is the law.

As we cycle along we often pass, or are passed by, other cyclists and usually try to catch their eye and give a cheery greeting. Sadly, many of those who cycle at the “safer” speeds of over 12 mph do not respond. The are simply focused on pushing the pedals round at maybe 16+ mph, eyes fixed a few feet in front of their wheels or on their cycling gizmos for recording their ride and its stats, quite often with earphones in their ears listening to heaven knows what. They are completely oblivious to the world around them and any enjoyment of their surroundings – surely this is a dangerous way to ride. All they seem to care about is beating their own, or somebody else’s Strava record for that particular route. Sad! They might as well stay on their turbo trainer at home.

To my way of thinking there are very few things you can do that costs little and enables you to keep fit whilst enjoying spending time with nature than riding a bike, especially if you take your time to look around you with awareness – after all, if there is something you want to take a closer look at, like when we saw a midday murmuration of starlings recently, you can always stop for a short while; it’s a good excuse for a rest!

Journaling

For several years I wrote ‘Morning Pages’, as writers are so often prompted to do. This is supposed to be ‘stream of consciousness’ writing, without thought, the idea being that when you read over what you have written later there may be something there that provides an inspiration for more serious writing. It never worked for me!

I wrote my Morning Pages religiously, at least 4 sides of A5 notebook every morning before I got up. It was complete and utter rubbish, nothing but pointless waffle, not one iota of inspiration hidden in the dross to inspire anything worth writing. Was I doing it wrong? Well, apparently there is no right or wrong way to do it. So I persevered, as I say, for several years, filling notebook after notebook with scribblings about the worries and concerns of my everyday life – what to cook for dinner, what to buy for someone’s birthday among other occasional more serious concerns and with a few nature observations here and there – but nothing to inspire a best-selling novel or even a decent poem. Stream of consciousness? Often I had to consciously think of something to write about, although I admit that once in the flow of the new topic it did stream out (I’m good at waffle), until I ran out of steam and had to think of another topic.

Eventually I decided enough was enough, I was wasting paper and ink for no apparent gain. For some time now I have not given so much as a thought to the idea of Morning Pages and have burned several of those rubbish filled notebooks, (although there are still some in the drawer of my bedside cabinet awaiting their turn on the fire).

Recently I have had something of a change of heart. Maybe I could do it differently. Part of the idea of these pages was as a form of mindfulness, subconsciously noticing things I suppose, in that stream of consciousness. Well ‘Small Stones’ share something of this idea too and I have also been writing these for many years. I enjoy writing these little poetic observation and have no intention of giving up.

Synchronicity had a hand in it perhaps, but recently I read a book that I picked up in a local charity shop; Notes from Walnut Tree Farm by the late Roger Deakin, ‘a writer, broadcaster and film maker with a particular interest in nature and the environment’. Walnut Tree Farm was his home in Suffolk and for the last six years of his life he kept notebooks about his impressions and observations around his home and other places he visited, people he met. Whether or not he wrote these notes everyday I don’t know, the book only claims to contain ‘the best of these writings’, but it occurred to me that here is my answer, I could do something similar. Most of my ‘stones’ are based on nature observation in my garden or when out and about so why not enlarge this perspective?

During the time I was reading the book I realised my awareness of what was going on around me was actually more acute than I had previously recognised or recorded, details I had thought too trivial to bother with. With this awareness came inspiration for some new poems and, as I mentioned in last Monday’s post, after almost a couple of years without writing a single decent poem I came up with several.

My answer, I decided, was to write my own similar nature notes, make my Morning Pages more meaningful to me, not so much ‘stream of consciousness’ but more specifically aimed, while still dragging things out of my subconscious mind – i.e. a more deliberate and focused ‘Journaling’ rather than the aimless Morning Pages. Also I do not need the stress and pressure of doing this first thing in the morning, I will do it as and when I have something to write about, whatever time of day, while what I have observed is fresh in my mind. Nor do I need to do it every day – if I have had an ‘indoor’ day with no chance to observe then there is no need to write. My writing will not be as share-worthy as Roger Deakin’s, I do not have his level of knowledge and experience, but then mine is not intended for sharing.

I almost wish I had thought of this earlier and started at the beginning of the year, instead of just yesterday, but I have solved that wish by deciding to start with a summary of things I noticed in January and take it from there – no more Morning Pages but Journaling, I think this will suit me better and hopefully be more productive.

Weather Forecasters

While weather forecasters think to hone
their skill by pouring over images
from satellites and charts,
or study their computer programmes
believing it a science not an art,
while Mother Nature yet delights
in unpredictability and shams,
I think I could likely do as well
with a piece of seaweed or a fir cone.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When I wrote this earlier today it looked as if the forecasts were wrong again, having promised sunshine it had clouded over and looked like rain but no, the cloud dispersed and the sun came out. It’s a lovely day!

Quote For Today

“Whosoever would understand the book of nature
must walk its pages with his feet.”

Paracelsus

Nature Spirits

I am in the process of re-reading ‘The Secret Life of Nature’ by Peter Tomkins, which was published in 1997 and which I first read probably in the early 1980’s. This was a follow on book to his ‘The Secret Life of Plants’ published in the 1970’s.

‘The Secret Life of Nature’ is about living in harmony with the hidden world of Nature Spirits, from Fairies to Quarks and is an interesting mix of what many would consider fantasy (fairies, gnomes, elves etc.) and modern science – psychics versus physics. It relates evidence for the unseen world of Nature Spirits as seen by clairvoyants. These spirits function all around us to produce the beauty of nature as we know it. They can be seen flitting around plants and trees, helping them grow, but not just at ground level, many of these beings are also found in the wind and the waves. Sadly I have never seen them myself but have long accepted that such things exists. Whether you consider it spiritually or scientifically, to me it is undeniable that there is an ‘essence’, a ‘spark’ of life that ensures a tulip is just that and not a holly bush. That things are what they are is due to an obvious blue-print and that they thrive is due to that essence of life pulsing through them – the life-force.

The book demonstrates how closely the observations of these clairvoyants now concurs with the findings of modern science regarding nature and way the universe works, the building blocks of matter, although they were at first streets ahead and ridiculed by the scientific community. I was absolutely knocked out the first time I read the book but over the years normal life got in the way and much of what I read was lost into the subconscious. Now I have rediscovered this amazing work and am knocked out anew. It makes you look at the world in a whole different light and anyone who takes these findings on board cannot but be amazed by the beauty of nature and the need to conserve this marvellous planet on which we live.

This also gives me a dilemma; whether you visualize these Nature Spirits as fairy creatures or just think of them merely in scientific terms as bursts of energy, where do we stand when caring for our gardens and countryside? What are we destroying when we mow our lawns, dig up our weeds, prune our trees? Have we any right to destroy what the life energy is creating in this way? But what is the alternative – do we allow our gardens to become rampant? How exactly do we find the compromise and work with these spirits to the mutual benefit of all?

So much of our countryside is ‘tamed’, yet it seems these spirits are still more than happy to work with what is there, but is it perhaps time we began to cover less of our towns with concrete and allow more room for nature – even if it is ‘tamed’. Maybe the old idea of ‘Garden Cities’ is not such a bad idea after all. Meanwhile I am still looking for those elusive spirits, but even now the world of nature has become a much brighter and more vivid reality. Somewhere I have a book about the Findhorn Community – I have read it twice already but may it is time I read that again too.

Winter Birds

Holly with berry
Hungry winter birds
feasting on nature’s bounty:
red holly berries.

Seasons

Everywhere I look
seasons follow Nature’s plan,
Spring turns to Summer.

Previous Older Entries

Site content copyright of Elizabeth Leaper (Libby).

Supporting the Printed Word

Read the Printed Word!