Monday, in the garden

The afternoon is moving into the evening, I’m sitting in the sun in my garden, in late July. I’m watching the cabbage white butterflies dance before me, immersed in the vegetation around me, French beans nestling into my right elbow, a squash plant rambling towards my foot. A buzzard is calling high above, a gentle breeze caressing my skin. The heat of the sun warm into my bones.

It’s pretty idyllic, really beautiful, everywhere I look. I’m fortunate enough to live in the Cotswold’s just outside of Stroud, the garden nestling into the hill under common land, overlooking dried horse paddocks and surrounded by trees, grass, hills and stone.

I feel blessed and relaxed by all I hear and see, and yet strangely saddened and perplexed by what I see and hear. I’ve been reading a string of books recently, around the theme of nature, particularly in this country. I find these books compulsive, nourishing and disturbing. One of the recent ones, The Moth Snowstorm, Nature and Joy, by Michael McCarthy, chronicles both the authors life and his life long relationship with nature. It also chronicles what he and other authors are calling the great thinning. The incredible reduction in species numbers that has happened (particularly in this country, but also in the rest of the developed world) over the past 60 years. Another great and ultimately very inspiring book in this genre is Wilding by Isabella Tree. She writes in-depth about the destruction, modern industrial agriculture has had upon the countryside and also about the project that her and her husband have developed at Knepp farm. An incredible explosion and richness of species has resulted from allowing natural processes to be self-willed and self directed.

When I look out from my garden and into the valley and hill across from me, I see it’s beauty but also the loss, the thinning. Most of the species are still here, but in very small numbers, the richness, the abundance, the sheer wealth of nature has been thinned, diminished, poisoned, crushed.

This summer so far has been beautifully and blissfully hot; my body loves it. I feel a parallel confusion, is this dryness and drought around me, just part of the cycles of this land or is it another manifestation of our destructive impact on the planet?

A few weeks ago I returned from Edge of the Wild, the annual eco-psychology gathering. I found it inspiring to be amongst other people who are equally concerned about the planet, and to be amongst people who have something of a shared outlook. I found it encouraging to hear about other people’s work in this arena. It was heartening for me to be amongst other people who share a sense of grief, desperation and sorrow about what’s happening to the world around us. I’ve come back feeling nourished and inspired.

To be continued….