*This post was written in May 2023, but due to spring/summer madness i have only just got around to sharing it.*
It is my third Maytime at Tinkers Bubble and this is where I would like to begin, deep in the chaos of spring. Today I am sat with bandages around my ankles and wrist from hog weed burns and an exploding bottle. Need I say more. The woods are not quiet these days. Most mornings, from my bed, I hear a small flock of geese flying overhead, noisily. Sitting outside the roundhouse at breakfast ,the life of the valley echos in our cockpit. New lambs from Bagnel Farm bleet for their mothers, milk crazed. Lee’s horses and ours neigh from field to field and the dawn chorus of birds waking and returning chimes 360 degrees.
The season began with the birth of a calf, Björn. Laden with complications we were thrown straight into the veil of life’s edges which I find most prominent around the poles Beltane and Samhain. Caring for animals often demands of us to drop our stuff, drop our plans and to drop our egos, as these relationships shine a shark light on our patterns of control. Over the past months I have learnt almost as much about cows as I had in the last two years. Intensely. Opening myself to the malleability of growth I have watched and received advice from friends who have spent much of their lives intimately with animals. I have learnt how to manoeuvre a calf with gentle touch in the right places, how to tube feed said calf who would not suckle, and much more. I’m not sure that I have the words to eloquently describe what I feel when I see a human who has spent a lifetime listening to and watching other animals, interact in a way which many of us do not even understand in ourselves. But I am incredibly grateful.
As I have been writing this a very large hornet has woken up and is now buzzing about my house. Spring strikes again. And this quite perfectly leads me onto questioning - How does living closer to nature affect us? I am enjoying this spring more than any other I have had here, bruises and all, and I think this is because I have allowed something within me to let go, to give into the manipulation and movement of the tides of change. The key to unlocking this expansion of acceptance has been through the teachings of lack and abundance. The invitation this provides for us to discover nourishment, to trust in what nature provides. Winter continues to be a hard teacher for me. Through waves of being regularly unwell this time gone, I explored a vitamin D deficiency after noticing my deep craving for the huge sky of the Somerset levels, a hungry greed from within my home in the dark woods. I learnt from a herbalist friend that mushrooms are full of vitamin D, of course! Autumn provides us with a bounty of resources to get us through the winter. So then, on the way out, I dived headfirst and frolicking into the forest floors of wild garlic. I could talk about this plant for hours, but for now I will say that its hot circulatory and antibacterial properties, along with the heady magic of sitting in a carpet of it, blasted me into spring, reborn and now feeling fitter than ever. Of course all plants affect us differently according to our individual needs, but I have found a friend for life in the tickling leaves, foggy stench and juicy stalks of wild garlic.
My next question is how does this learning affect how we live together in human spaces? Perhaps part of the gift is in shifting our perspectives away from a life which is so human centric. Learning to recognise and care for ones role in a network is another piece of the puzzle. At Tinkers Bubble I have learnt to fear my voice less, to be bound less by the worry of being wrong or right in order to dance on the precipice of what could be a little more each time. It can be scary, but the opportunity this lifestyle has bought for me to build connection to my body and to place has a huge part to play in this behavioural social change, for I now trust in life more. I know that growth comes out of decay, life comes out of death, mistakes can be learnt from, what is broken can be transformed. But not only this, I trust that I know how to refill my cup again if things do go wrong. The importance of having a full cup appears to me to be fundamental in our capacity to cultivate trust in life. Things always start to fray at the edges when someones cup isn’t full, as addictions, anger, attachment and anxiety patterns all start to raise their heads. But of course our cup cannot always be full. That is not the nature of life. One day we may be walking up underneath an oak tree for a morning swim in a pond, and the next we may be blistered and bleeding from our ankles and wrists. Or whatever your alternatives may be. It is the filling of it which matters. This is why learning form and accepting the cycles of our environment, and therefore our own, feels to me to be key. For then when we are full we can cultivate abundance from a place of generosity, and when we are empty and in need, that nourishment may hold us through our lack.
Living this closely to nature has nurtured a deep sensitivity within me, which is manifesting increasingly around our relationships to food. Food, life, death and nature are inseparable things in my mind, and the nourishment of such go far beyond our hand to mouth actions. They reside in the ability we have to make choices of where and how we feed, what networks and cycles we are generating within the web. I am incredibly lucky to live with access to land and wildness, and I am under no illusion of the privilege I hold In being able to be highly principled about where I get my food from. But it is something I wish to hold throughout my life, Bubble or no Bubble. I feel the pain and destruction behind the supply chains of our choc a block shop shelves, and consumptive culture. This fire in me is one that I want to fuel, to communicate but I do not want to do so in an air of blame and shame. So what I can do is talk from my grief. My grief says that humans have the capacity to understand their place, to be creative creatures which participate in life and death accountably and generatively; leaving footprints of collaboration within their ecosystems. But the traps of comfort, convenience, control, clarity and coherence so often keep us away from this. There is magic and wonder in the world and it sits at the thresholds of our realities, where the known interacts with the unknown. A breeding ground of change riddled by the wisdom of communication. I am never going to know what the birds do at 5am on a May morning if I stay glued to the safety of my memory foam mattress topper. I am never going to understand or be able to share the power of a plant such as hog weed if I avoid it my whole life. And I am never going to know how to find myself lunch on a woodland walk if I keep reiterating that food comes in a packet. We miss out on so much life when we in-prison our creativity into concrete images of what our dinner should look like. What our lives should look like. And the crux of it, is that we are these creative creatures I speak of, our imaginations become real through our astounding ability to create. But we are turning the world into an exhibition of sterile food production lines, an echo chamber with less and less alternatives for us to learn from those dynamic edge lands, to be transformed by the unknown and to imagine our lives different. And I do believe that those of us who have the privilege to make these choices about what we endorse when we use or consume, have a responsibility to try to learn how be accountable to creation.
“So, life is a crapshoot, a mess, a wonderful hodgepodge of plants and animals varying uniquely in space and time, some nature and some nurture arising interdependently with chance. Sensitivity to environmental conditions leads to individuality and diversity, which we should appreciate and embrace. Life flies in the face of our attempts to categorise and generalise based on assumptions about averages - nature fills vacuums with individuals, and no two are alike. Genes, organisms, environments and chance ever combining to affect form, function and behaviours as landscapes evolve - organisms influencing landscapes, influencing organisms in unending transformation. When we think of evolution as something that happened in the past, we miss the mark: Transformation is unending.”
-Nourishment, Fred Provenza.
Here is a poem I wrote recently to finish off;
Green, are the mosses of the forest floor,
As the sky weeps in the overwhelm of spring.
Blue, are the bells that litter the carpet,
Awaiting their cups to be filled.
Pink, are Robert and Campion,
Scattered like stars who blush,
As the red, of my blood and the iron spring,
Flow into the soils thirsty mouth.
Brown, are last years oak leaves,
As they die into the hummus so fine.
Loud, are my mornings in the valley;
Lambs wail, brings sing and screech,
Cows call for mate or mother,
And horses gallop through mown orchard ground.
Spring in beautiful, Spring is painful.
Spring is the epitamy of all we can be,
When the forces of life are enabled.