Striding across the meadow looking as if he’s stepped out of Hardy’s fictional Wessex landscape, Steven McCulloch is wearing a wide-brimmed white hat, a billowing
I bought a keyring a lifetime ago, from Roskilly Farm’s gift shop in Cornwall. It’s a round ball of smooth, turned walnut, fissured with black
““I’m not a happy camper or festival goer”, I hear myself say over again in the run up to the festival. But as a kid I went to festivals and camped a lot, so maybe that’s not strictly true. Maybe I’d just forgotten how to do it.”
“…it can feel as though we have no control over the climate or our environment, that nothing we do matters; whereas in truth, everything does.”
“Gardening, the act of putting my hands into the soil, saves me time and again.”
“So my mind is full of what home means, whether it’s a place, a person, or a feeling, when the train pulls into the station and I climb aboard, looking for Dad.”
“I feel more and more as though I belong to the before times – the 1970s and 80s, the watery technicolour of Crackerjack, disaster movies and flares, of kids under coats in seatbeltless cars, of drunk drivers and questionable personal politics.”
I begin to find that the observations I have heard my mothers and mothers-in-law make over the years are now my own – I too have had enough of cooking and Christmases.
“It was brutal, but wasn’t that what nature was, what we were, made brutal by our drive to survive?”
“We clamoured to be told the stories she had told us a thousand times before”
“Once we’ve parted ways and I’ve set off around the fields, trying not to notice the stakes hammered in around the perimeters of both fields, I feel the jolt of reality. To walk here wouldn’t be possible for much longer – once the fence was up, it was up. It wouldn’t be coming down again. Each fence post suddenly feels like a line drawn in the sand.”
‘As an adult I’ve always likened running to ironing – it’s just showing off. I’ve looked at runners and thought, but what are they actually running away from?’
When we reach the station we discover the Station Tea Room. We push open the door, hovering, masked, in the doorway. “Can we come in?” we ask Dominic and Roger, working at a table. “Of course”, they reply, smiling.
“For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.”
As the light changes I begin to think about the big stuff and Carl Sagan’s wisdoms come to mind.
‘One day Theo handed me a roll of electric fencing. “Hold this for a second, Nels,” he said. “You won’t connect it, will you?” I ask. “Nah, course not,” he says.’
“Sorry,” the woman says to her invisible friend, murmuring hello to the dog as he lifts his head to her in greeting, “it’s just someone holding the gate for me.” Together apart. Together, together again. Sort of.
The swallows return and we host our first gathering in the garden, leading me to reflect on what makes it possible to make leaps of faith.
The natural world bounds and cartwheels back to life, bringing opportunities for much-missed connections.
A reflection on our relationship with the natural world in light of a proposed development on a green field site in Sandford
February turns from darkness to light as the days lengthen, life begins to push up out of the earth and we find reasons to have hope.