“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Insidious Sexism is Everywhere!

September, the beginning of the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and also the month in which all the Christmas catalogues begin to come through my letter box. I stash them away for future reference, as I refuse to even *think* about Christmas before mid-November.

The latest one was the Qwerkity catalogue; yes I am going to name and shame. The whole thing is divided into 'Presents for Men' and 'Gifts for Her' which is sufficiently infuriating in the first place. Let me share the contents list for each part:

Presents for Men: Books, Boys, Teens & Twenties, Food & Drink, Gadgets, Grooming, Home & Garden, Music & Hobbies, Out & About, Sport & Leisure, Stocking Fillers

Gifts for Her: Accessories, Animal Lovers, Beauty & Pampering, Books & Leisure, Christmas, Food & Drink, Garden Inspired, Gifts for Everyone, Girls, Teens & Twenties, House & Home, Kitchen, Stocking Fillers, Unusual Presents

So ... women aren't interested in gadgets? men aren't interested in cooking? To add insult to injury, the Books section in the men's part is four pages of books; the Books & Leisure section in the women's part is two pages of books & four pages of colouring books & drawing & jigsaw puzzle stuff. And that is just one example.

But the thing that Really Really Annoyed me was that each of the Teens and Twenties sections featured a student cookbook - the male students' one was called 'The Hungry Student Cookbook' and the female students' one was called 'The Hungry Healthy Student Cookbook'. Implicit message: if you are a female student, you need to watch your weight. This made me spit feathers. I am sure that the books themselves are aimed at students of both sexes, but the placement within the catalogue ... just infuriating!

WHEN are we going to start treating each other as human beings, with equity and respect?

Friday, 16 September 2016

Landscape Memories

Have you ever visited a new place, experiencing it for the first time, and felt a strange, haunting sense  of familiarity? Like you know it so well?

This happened to me yesterday, when my DB and I walked the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail. As soon as we set foot on it, I felt the resonance. It reminded me so much of Dolgoch Falls in mid-Wales, perhaps my favourite walking place in the world. The lively sound of the water as it chuckled and gurgled its way over the rocks; the sun-dappled oaks and beeches, their trunks furred with vivid green moss; the wonderfully evocative smell of the damp ferns, now beginning to turn into brown bracken -   all these were so familiar, so well-beloved.

And the path itself, an eclectic mix of textures, widths, and colours. Partly a network of exposed and ancient tree roots, the dirt between them carpeted with moss, and last year's leaf mould. Partly naturally outcropping stones, and chippings of slate. And partly concrete steps, laid to make the going easier, aloe with stout posts and rails which also serve to prevent the adventurous from straying off the path, in search of a more advantageous viewing point.

Even the background sounds were the same - the deeper rushing roar of the falls themselves, the twitter of birdsong, and the baa-ing of the sheep on the fells above. It was magical.

Every so often, I stopped, closed my eyes, took a few deep breaths, and gave thanks for such beauty, and for all the people who work to care for such places, so,that people like us can enjoy them, and re-connect with the Divine.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Autumn Blessings

This is a beautiful time of year. The long heat of the Summer is over (except that we didn’t get very much this year), and we can settle down and enjoy some warm, golden days before the Winter sets in. In our hemisphere at least, and in spite of the not-so-wonderful Summer we’ve had, the harvest has been largely gathered in; although this doesn’t mean what it once did. For the last few days, the sounds of this traditional agricultural task have been drifting in through my open window, reconnecting me with the rhythms of the natural world. Even if it is now largely done by machines.

 I think it is a shame that Western society has grown so far away from the cycle of the seasons, and the agricultural round. Even when I was a child, which I know my children think was sometime in the Dark Ages, but really isn’t so long ago, harvest still meant something, at least to a child brought up in the countryside. But now, ask anyone where their food comes from, and they are likely to reply “from the supermarket”. You can buy pretty much anything all the year round – strawberries in December, parsnips in June. We’ve got a recipe book at home called The Cookery Year, which is full of wonderful recipes to cook for each month of the year, using “seasonal ingredients”. And at the beginning, there is a four-page table entitled The Fruit and Vegetable Year, which explains what you can get from which country at particular times of year. It makes fascinating reading.

I love the in-between seasons, when the weather is neither too hot nor too cold, when there is a reasonable chance of warm, sunny days, and still-light evenings, when it is a pleasure, rather than a penance, to walk abroad, either around the village, or in my beloved Salcey Forest.

I go up into the Forest as often as I can - it only takes five minutes to walk from my front door, to the gate which leads to the path to the Forest. I can be in the "Forest proper" in ten or fifteen minutes, which is such a blessing. The Forestry Commission has done a lot of work to ensure that the path is navigable all year round (when we first moved to the village, it used to be "wellies only" except in the driest part of the Summer). Nowadays, I can walk in trainers for most of the year, and walking boots for the rest. Working from home as I mainly do, I can choose my times of walking, whenever the weather seems propitious, or to clear my mind, or to soothe my spirit.

I have blogged on here before about the glories of Autumn in the Forest, and I am looking forward very much to the next few weeks, as the leaves begin to turn, and the trees show just how colourful they can be when they really try. I am so very blessed to live in amongst it all.