“Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” Mark Twain
Blackbirds gracing my garden always lift my mood. Their invariable fleeing in alarm when I enter, however, expresses a universal verity, and we witness something similar every time we go for a walk in the countryside. Sigmund Freud wrote of the “inability of people to hear things which did not fit in with the way they saw themselves… We put ourselves through all sorts of inner contortions, rather than look plainly at those things which challenge our fundamental understanding of the world” (Kingsnorth 2017: 268). I am trying to start here, to acknowledge from the outset this is not what people for the most part will want to hear. Read more
Caroline Lucas, speaking at the Oxford Real Farming Conference 2019 this week, criticised the Agriculture Bill at present going through parliament as lacking in firm provisions relating to farmland nature: little on environmental regulation post-Brexit, and nothing on public health. But evidence is accumulating that a robust and accessible natural environment is essential for human mental and physical health. The deterioration of the environment affects the most vulnerable people; children are growing up in ignorance of the joys of wild nature. We forget we are part of creation; humans are just one branch on the tree of life. For us, nature is not a luxury, not just a week-end destination, but a necessity for health and happiness; to be cut off from nature is sensory deprivation.
Most of my life has involved nature as my adventure. I ask myself why. My connection with non-human lives has been a constant ember within me, aside only during a period of traumatic bereavement, another story. I acknowledge this bond was securely founded in early childhood.
I think it came in two main parts.
Firstly, I was fortunate to live, play and imagine among nature with effortless ease, growing up in a particularly biodiverse corner of North Herefordshire. It was a hamlet of a few houses dotted around a hill, but mostly of woods, streams, tracks and open common land. Read more
From a presentation given for New Networks for Nature’s ‘Nature Matters’ event in Stamford, England, November 2015
For more than twenty years I have lived by the sea in Scotland. My children have grown up with otters as their neighbours and, more recently, with re-introduced white tailed eagles too. They’re as pleased to see them as when they bump into their friends, which is just as it should be. It’s a place we feel we belong.
To walk on that shoreline is to play back some of our own history: one rock makes me smile at the memory of a picnic we had there, when my daughter found a long heron’s feather and put it in her hair. In another place I stand again where I once did at midnight, after heavy snow, entranced by the full moon that lit up the land as far as I could see. Read more
Nature is full of surprises! You never know quite what you are going to see in your garden or local patch. It may be a beautiful orange-tip butterfly laying its eggs in spring on cuckoo flower; a hedgehog at dusk on a summer’s evening, the sighting of a vibrant blue kingfisher in your local stream, or an overwintering redwing or fieldfare feeding on berries. Read more