Fate throws a few opportune curve balls if you’re paying attention and willing to catch and run.

I was day dreaming on the bus, missed my stop and got off opposite Growing Life, a curiosity shop dedicated to hydroponics, indoor gardening, grow tents and seller of all manner of strange nutrients and additives.

I was lured in by the wormeries, an obviously blokey bait in retrospect. Why would you want a normal garden composter when you can have a binful of 2,000 ravenous wrigglers chomping their way through your leftovers?

You can be all pious and self righteous for doing your bit for the environment, are harnessing the power of the worm and have a show stopper of a pub conversation all rolled into one act of do-gooder eco weirdness.

The wriggly ones process around 500g of vegetable matter a week leaving a fine compost to spread on your garden or throw over the neighbour’s cat. I was also educated in the ways of worm tea,  a super nutrient made from mixing worm castings which are mixed with water and then oxygenated.

Of course, the real stars of the show are the worms whose names sound like the cast from an X-Men film: European Nightcrawler, Red Wriggler and the White Worm

 

‘Fight one more round. When your feet are so tired that you have to shuffle back to the center of the ring, fight one more round. When your arms are so tired that you can hardly lift your hands to come on guard, fight one more round. When your nose is bleeding and your eyes are black and you are so tired that you wish that your opponent would crack you one on the jaw and put you to sleep, fight one more round – remembering that the man who always fights one more round is never whipped.’

James L. Corbett

 

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. Let God speak within you, and your thoughts will grow silent. You are anxious because your path leads away from mother and home. But every step and every day lead you back again to the mother. Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

Hermann Hesse

 

There’s something about always pursuing tomorrow so you don’t have to think about today that quietly robs you of life.

I always wondered what Winston Churchill meant when he said ‘men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.’

The illusion that being busy is the same as being productive and realising that majoring in minor things is just noisy static that gives you an excuse for not having the courage to take your nose of the grindstone and see where you are in life.

The sea will take you everywhere and nowhere if you don’t set your own course. Anyway, it  reminded me of this poem:

What is this life if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
and stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
and watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies


 

A 50 mile cycle ride takes you from east London to Cambridge passing through some of the most picturesque countryside in the South East.

Head north of Chigwell and grey suburban streets are quickly replaced by a quiet network country lanes, wooded dells and gently rolling countryside fat with the bloom of late summer.

Essex’s patchwork of sleepy villages and single track roads are a pleasant discovery for those who associate the county with ugly satellite towns like Basildon.

The place names are equally rustic: Molehill Green, Duck End, Little Laver, Toot Hill, Radwinter and the wonderfully named Nasty.

There’s not a white stiletto or boy racer in sight as I follow the soft green folds of the Rodings northwards over forded roads, past signs warning of deer traffic and cricket teams playing off the baize of village greens.

The rural idyll extends to people leaving home-made jams and honey for sale outside their homes along with donation boxes. There are ‘for sale’ signs for ducks, hens and rabbits. Some saintly soul is even giving away free manure.

I half expect to hear the distant sound ‘Jerusalam’ carried on the breeze such is the Englishness of it all.

Summer’s last sigh is in the air and what better way to watch her slip into autumn than stopping off for a cone of Mr Whippy’s finest.  Today was a good day.

Anyone who has reached the end of this rambling rather self-indulgent blog may be wondering about the photo. Didn’t I tell you? Essex is awash with the living dead.

 

The Friday afternoon of a Bank Holiday weekend is like some strange juxtaposition of the planets in our office.

The extended weekend, absence of any senior staff and lax adherence to a normal working day leading to mass communal migration

Somewhere in this forest of silence I hear a solitary keyboard clicker.

Just me and the burning boy on the deck now..

 

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Khalil Gibran, poet

© 2011 gruntfarter.co.uk Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha