As much as I enjoyed reading George Monbiot’s book, Feral, there were times when I felt despair. Now, before I put you off reading it, I must qualify that. The book is beautifully written, his descriptions of the Welsh landscape are poetic. His sense of feeling alive during his brush with danger in Cardigan Bay is invigorating. Despair did not arise from anything he had to say personally, in fact he provides some wonderfully intriguing theories and an insightful perspective on the landscape of Britain, long past, and what could be.
This is illustrated in this radio programme where the host joins George for a walk. In it, he expresses some of the best of his thoughts in Feral.
However, I felt despair as he described the completely non-sensical conservation policy that drives approaches to land management across Europe. Imagine someone asking you how your relationship is going. You reply “we’re conserving it nicely, it’s sustainable.” I don’t think I’d be getting an exciting picture of your relationship. That pretty much sums up the state of conservation policy. We’re conserving something that is already dead. Or at least almost.
Wouldn’t it be exciting if you instead replied, “We’re finding ways to regenerate our relationship, to bring it alive again”?
Recognising that his articles are quite despair inducing, George is beginning to talk solutions in an occasional series he is writing for The Guardian. He’s looking for those pockets of regeneration. Links to the first three are below, but I’ll add others as they arise, mostly as I don’t want to lose them between all the other articles he writes.
George Monbiot mentioned the poet John Clare. My investigation led me to “Winter Walk”, which reflects the day here in Yorkshire and the adoration of the holly tree encountered on their walk in the radio programme.
The holly bush, a sober lump of green,
Shines through the leafless shrubs all brown and grey,
And smiles at winter be it eer so keen
With all the leafy luxury of May.
And O it is delicious, when the day
In winter’s loaded garment keenly blows
And turns her back on sudden falling snows,
To go where gravel pathways creep between
Arches of evergreen that scarce let through
A single feather of the driving storm;
And in the bitterest day that ever blew
The walk will find some places still and warm
Where dead leaves rustle sweet and give alarm
To little birds that flirt and start away.
So, I’ve not quite given you a film for the future today, but I hope I’ve presented good course for the feast I’m trying to provide.
Featured Image: By Yathin S Krishnappa (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons