Lost god of the hills

Lost god of the hills


Lost god of the hills

I awoke, this morning to a mist across the land, the cold a forerunner of the winter to come. I had dreamed again of your face, the lines of time etched across it and that sad but knowing look staring back at me. I know that look for I have seen it many times, it is the look of an old man holding the hand of the child he knew, the girl he loved, the woman she had become and the old wise teacher. You hold her hand as the light fades from her eyes knowing she must go first, as you must hold the world in wisdom while she is reborn. Your time will come soon and you will be together again.

We see your grief and longing in the falling leaves and feel your tears upon the mists of the mornings we will morn her passing too, wrapping up warm besides our fires and talk of her while we eat of the bounty you both provided. In the night we will call to you and look for you in the wild places and maybe we will hear you call in return and know you wisdom holds us safe.

To us you are not the lost god of the hills although we turned our backs for many a time. we will light our fires and call to you and hope you come sit awhile, we will tell you our stories holding you close as your time of passing draws near. We will await your return with joy in our hearts and the knowledge that your love will overcome the darkness.

Words by Philthetree2016
Image by Hannah Willow


Karuna – permaculture in action

Karuna – permaculture in action

In 2007 (I think), with a group of friends, I visited a place not far from Shrewsbury in Shropshire, UK which was called ‘Karuna’.

Karuna is a land-based permaculture project and forest garden, created by Janta and Merav Wheelhouse, along with their two sons. The Wheelhouse’s had purchased the 19 acres of former sheep grazing fields at auction, selling their previous house in Wales to raise the funds.

They started by planting trees – literally thousands of them, by hand. When I visited, the trees were between 3 and 5 feet tall, but already you could feel the positive change on the land. When I re-visited back in 2012, the difference was staggering – trees were now 10 – 20 feet tall – this was a thriving mini forest!

Merav recording and mapping out the fruit and nut trees at Karuna
Merav recording and mapping out the fruit and nut trees at Karuna. [image from karuna.org.uk]
The surrounding area is a fairly typical agricultural ‘green desert’, being mainly fields of sheep. The local community is very conservative when it comes to new ideas and anything radical, so you can imagine their reaction when the Wheelhouse’s put a ex-showmen’s caravan on the land to enable them to live and work there!

A public footpath crosses part of their land, and at one point, someone had put down a herbicide in an attempt to kill some of the trees. It was impossible to prove who was responsible, so the Wheelhouse’s just had to carry on, repair and replant and hope that common sense would win.

Planning enforcement and appeals became a daily struggle, but after many years of blocking and obstruction, they slowly began to get permission for sheds, polytunnels (things which local farmers have no problem obtaining) and eventually a strawbale, reciprocal roof roundhouse.

There’s still work to be done. Lack of money means jobs take much longer, but they are nearly ‘there’ with the roundhouse. Check out their website at www.karuna.org.uk and please consider helping them in some way.

In the meantime, just look what you can achieve in 10 years – from a green desert to the largest forest garden in the UK!

Talking trees

Talking trees

A few months ago, I saw several posts on social media about how trees communicated with each other. At the time, I didn’t bother to look into it any further, but recently a friend put up a link to a TED talk by Canadian scientist Suzanne Simard (embedded below).

She came from a family closely associated with trees – her grandfather was a logger and when she started work, she also found herself in the logging industry. Fortunately, the relentless destruction caused by intensive logging and clear cutting of forests didn’t rest well with her conscience and she could no longer be a part of it.

She went back to studying and researched a lead into tree to tree communication. She has been able to prove that many species of trees work together, asking for carbon as an example, and other adjacent trees respond by giving it. But not just carbon – many other of the essentials of tree life can be asked for and given in a two-way relationship.

How did I miss this? It’s so amazing, breathtaking and groundbreaking that it should be major news shouldn’t it? As the realisation and extent of what’s happening starts to sink in, it’s really making me think, on a deep level about trees, about nature and about the part humans play, particularly in the destruction and use of trees.

…it’s really making me think, on a deep level about trees, about nature and about the part humans play, particularly in the destruction and use of trees.

Humans have clearcut old growth forests all around the world, and continue to do so right now. Deforestation is not just an issue in the Amazon, it’s an issue in the USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Borneo, China and so on. When you clearcut, you don’t just kill the trees, you destroy the entire ecosystem that trees are the hub of, so fungi, insects, birds, mammals are decimated often to the point of no return.

And when ‘we’ replant forests, we plant the best thing for humans – cash crops – monocultures of the trees that will grow fastest and tallest and yield the highest profit. No longer do we have the diversity that was once there, and therefore, the mono cultures are prime sites for attack by pests and diseases.

I’m sure I read last week, that Sweden had logged over 95% of its old growth forests (if anyone can verify this, please let me know…). Although we tend to think of Sweden as a country covered in forest, it seems humans have stripped it bare and replanted commercial monocultures. The same is true of Finland according to some of the writing of Finnish philosopher, Pentti Linkola.

So, does the news that trees communicate affect you in any way? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Spirit of wood

Spirit of wood

Part of my job involves working with wood. I generally love it – being creative and making something that is highly visual, useful and that people can appreciate the effort I’ve put in.

I started off doing a lot of the work with hand tools, however over the years I’ve moved over to more power tools. Part of the move has been economic – it takes much less time to produce something using power tools – part of it is also accuracy – a power tool can quickly achieve a perfect cut and getting lines straight and true makes a big difference.

once-she-stoppedBut power tools take you even further away from the essence of wood and from the lessons it can teach us. We become so removed that we might was well work with plastic or concrete. Wood has a heart and soul. Wood teaches us to slow down, to look, to feel, to listen to be intuit.

However, there is as aspect that sits slightly uncomfortably with me. Most of the wood I use was grown outside the UK and is highly engineered. I know little to nothing about the origin of the wood, the landscape, the environment – what, if anything, is being done about re-planting? Was the land clear-cut (disastrous for nature) or were trees picked out to allow recovery time? There’s also the fact that my skills revolve only around using pre-prepared wood. Presented with a ‘tree’, I wouldn’t know what to do.

Getting back to the essence of working with simple, minimal materials is something many crave and this lovely short video of the Stone Dahl family from Wisconsin, USA really whets the appetite! Although from the USA (material availability will be very different from the UK or other places), there is much to learn from what they do and their respect to the tree…