Thursday 27 January 2011

Letter No 10: The magic of woods and forests

 I've just been walking to the studio and the sun came out; very welcome at the tail end of January. I have to trick myself through the first couple of months of the year, making sure to do things that will counteract the urge to stay under the duvet and sleep. Because I find winter such hard work, I buy daffodils ridiculously early, try to surround myself with bright colours and all the while count down the weeks to spring. When I can, I'll go to the woods and look for signs of new growth. That damp earthy smell, the sound of the twigs snapping, leaves rustling underfoot and all those echoey sounds reconnect me with my senses and as I spot the odd shoot or snowdrop, my mood lifts significantly. When spring does arrive, I drag the kids to see the bluebells and every time I am blown away at how beautiful it is (telling the kids there's a lash in my eye doesn't stop them laughing at me). Come autumn and we're back to see the colour, find seed heads and then there's that gorgeous loamy smell again.

If I were religious, I'd visit a church to feel as I do when walking in a wood and that's why I want them to stay in public ownership. For me and everyone else who connects with something bigger than themselves, woods and forests are magical places. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to get behind any campaign that keeps these lovely spaces owned by the public, for public use.

P.S Here's that 17th century rhyme in full, which was a protest against English enclosure:

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common off the goose.

The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine.

The poor and wretched don't escape
If they conspire the law to break;
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back.


Clare Halstead said...

Hi Bern - these letters are beautiful. Its really hard to know what to do against the onslaught of this government, so I think you've got this just right!

Bern O'Donoghue said...

Thanks Clare, hoping other people to get involved in speaking out.