Natural blessings

Natural blessings

A comprehensive – though incomplete – list of nature’s beauty and diversity.  So much to celebrate … The manifold diversity of beauty in sky and earth and sea; the abundance of light, and its miraculous loveliness, in sun and moon and stars;...
A divine emotion

A divine emotion

I liked this description of a joyous but modulated sense of appreciation. For my part, I am almost contented just now, and very thankful.  Gratitude is a divine emotion; it fills the heart, but not to bursting; it warms us, but not to fever. Gratitudinously yours.   ...
Miss Mann’s yearning

Miss Mann’s yearning

Charlotte Bronte reminds us of a deep longing often hidden beneath layers of life.  A few weeks ago, we visited a medieval hamlet in Sardinia, which despite a few tourists and sights, was apparently showing signs of abandonment.  We saw an old man sitting on a bench. ...
Past into future

Past into future

I love images of bringing the past, at least in its positive manifestations, into the present and future. Nicolson provides us with a couple of fine similes, and I particularly like his earth-digging, tilth-making metaphor.  But here now, maybe, there was something...
Life is fragile

Life is fragile

A recent article had a doctor refer to our ‘short, breakable lives’, reminding us of this fragility. Here is Nicolson’s take on Homer: Homer knows that life is fragile, love suffers hurt and death comes; and that the moments on a hillside in the...
Life aims

Life aims

I liked this life mix mooted by Adam Nicolson: wide horizons, which might include embracing places and ideas unfamiliar, woven together with a strong sense of belonging, which might point to putting down new roots, or simply cherishing old ones.   … life that...
Leonine concentration

Leonine concentration

As I get older, I have a stronger sense of needing this kind of concentration.  So many dreams and projects to realise, filling more space than the (likely) time available to complete them.  This has made me less tolerant of things which seem inessential and jejune,...
Prize life and enjoy it

Prize life and enjoy it

Caroline goes through a period of malaise and fear for her future, with illness en route. I believe in my heart we were intended to prize life and enjoy it, so long as we retain it.  Existence never was originally meant to be that useless, blank, pale, slow-trailing...
Relationships matter

Relationships matter

Saint-Exupery highlights the essentials of life revealed at the moment of death.  A reminder to be conscious of the mesh of relationships binding us to life, while we live.  And I would expand the notion to include our relationships to places and other species. When...
Life as a reprieve

Life as a reprieve

In the day to day whoosh of things to do and deal with, we may be conscious of our time being limited on a daily or hourly basis, but often forget the bigger time limit, life itself.   The grandmother of the French artist Françoise Gilot reminds us that life is a...
This is my life

This is my life

A succinct testimony to a life aligned with its owner. Rebanks has also spent decades trying to align farming in an industrialised, globalised context with his values and the demands of sustainability.  Despite the pressures, he easily concludes he wouldn’t...
And life is…

And life is…

This poem, ‘Into Battle’, was written in 1915 by an officer serving in the First World War, Julian Grenfell.  It was published in The Times the day after his death from war wounds. The poems draws on different threads of life as providing strength to the...
Our land is a poem

Our land is a poem

A lovely description of a landscape as poetry in motion, slow sedimentary layers added by successive generations.  Maybe recent layers showing devastation of rich old forests and all round biodiversity will give way to more trees, plants and a wide range of species of...
Man has a long time to go

Man has a long time to go

Some wise words from Aaron Copland to a young Leonard Bernstein.  They maintained a close friendship and correspondence for decades, and I like the advice.  It reminds me of a word from a father to a daughter in an American novel: ‘Slow down, Ivy, slow...
The tricky business of simple living

The tricky business of simple living

An interesting character in Goncharov’s 1859 novel Oblomov is Andrey, close friend of the eponymous hero.  He starts out as an exuberant, feisty boy and grows into a disarmingly and ebulliently self-assured, balanced and capable man who tries to rouse his...
Enduring friendship

Enduring friendship

The cool and collected Narziss finally tells his lifelong friend Goldmund how much he means to him.  Goldmund wanders the world for years, the wilder of the two, and perhaps in some senses the less wise, eventually returning to his childhood home, and friend-mentor...
Bursting the boundaries

Bursting the boundaries

A wonderful comment on life – you can come up with as many fine formulae as you like, it will sooner or later defy our clever definitions. Life always bursts the boundaries of formulas. Part of me says, ‘Thank goodness’. For other comments on this...
What are decades to dreams?

What are decades to dreams?

Golding, sailing past the island of Ithaka, thought he would return and land within a few months.  Then war and life intervened, and it took him more than a quarter of a century.  Which goes to show, hang on to your dreams long enough and they can come true.  Or, more...
Live wisely, live well

Live wisely, live well

Isn’t this all we’re trying to do when we talk about ‘sustainability’, ‘circular economy’, or climate change?  When it’s put so simply, it sounds easy, but we have a long way to go before we can see our stifling ignorance fall...
Begin afresh

Begin afresh

A soughing sense of spring surging in the dense-leaved trees.   You can hear the branches, brushing against each other in the dancing breeze, whispering like a wish in your ear, enticing you to begin afresh, afresh, afresh. Yet still the unresting castles threshIn...

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