3 January 2013

Out in the Forest

Out in the forest at this time of year, everything is holding its breath.  Although mid-winter, there's a lightening amongst the deciduous trees.  Branches are defined and free of clutter.  Space has been cleared in preparation for the new.  Vistas are generous.  You can see things you can’t normally see when foliage complicates the issue. 

But of course, all is not one hundred percent well.  Ash dieback has spread to our shores.  A disease first noticed in Lithuania, but with origins in Asia, it is sweeping eastwards, and making steady and grim progress through our woodlands.    

In Norse mythology, the tree of life, Yggdrasil, is a giant ash that links the worlds.  Should it be affected, then all life is threatened.  

It is a metaphor with arresting resonance, as much as the words of a forester who on a recent radio programme talked about the measures needed to cope with this new disease and the serious thought required as to what trees might be able to replace the stricken ash. What he mentioned has stuck with me: that in the maintenance of a forest, there is nothing short-term at all.  Decisions made today would far out-reach his own span of time.  He would not live to see many of the results of his work, but was involved in stewardship for a coming century and future generations. 

Listening to him, I thought of people who would benefit from such an approach, and perhaps from a compulsory six months work experience in a forest – politicians, economists, industrialists… But then my list grew and grew to pretty much everyone on this planet, regardless of occupation or condition.  We all, let's face it, ultimately need to honour the patch around us, protect its possibilities for those who will succeed us, and take responsibility for what we choose to fell and what we choose to nurture.

So here's to the new dreams you plant in 2013 - may a number of them be not of the instant variety but unfurl gradually into something majestic, sturdy and truly lasting. 

No comments:

Post a Comment