from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

intertidal zones

Another day in paradise...
Yesterday in spring sun I drove once again up onto the high moor through Buckland-in-the-Moor. It was that 'intertidal zone' time: not quite dimpsey but starting towards the evening stillness. The upland hills seem to stretch and elongate at this time of day, as features are absorbed back into the landscape.

I was making for the perfect little ancient hamlet of Bonehill, near Widecombe; or rather for the little group of tors just above Bonehill: Chinkwell, Honeybag, Bell Tor. Sometimes, depending partly on the weather and the clarity of the light, you can see the sea from here. As I climbed the sky seemed to become more translucent, more lemony-rose, and the crescent moon emerged; auspicious, I thought, the symbolism of the new moon for my daughter's birthday. And there she was, waiting for me for a walk and supper at the pub in the valley below, silhouetted on Honeybag Tor, where she'd been hunkered down in sun and moss in the lee of the wind for an hour or two, just being quiet.

Adding to environmental pollution were the swailing activities on Dartmoor today and yesterday, with belts of flame and smoke on various moorland shoulders. There's some controversy about this. Swailing is a burning-off of old heather, gorse and bracken in a controlled way; it stimulates new growth, and is usually undertaken by 'commoners' who have grazing rights on the moor for sheep, cattle and ponies. It's true that swailing and grazing both keep gorse and bracken from taking over, but there is an argument that, if left to itself and ungrazed, eventually woodland would regenerate here on the moor to replicate the old forest that was once Dartmoor.

The Western Morning News seems to think that swailing is 'to the delight of ground-nesting birds'. What, removing their cover? And what of those that had already started nesting/laying? I can't help being mindful of the tens of thousands of small lives extinguished in the burning: voles, shrews, mice, rabbits, lizards, snakes, slow-worms...

Natural humanship
My daughter and I have spent all our lives alongside horses, handling them in a way that is as kind, collaborative and close to the natural as possible, given that we have domesticated them. We espouse the view that horse and human need to work as a team with any kind of coercion entirely absent from the relationship, and my daughter is using a way of training her young stallion that attempts to mirror horse-body-language.

We're both aware that we are strong-willed, idealistic and probably quite demanding people (I'm talking now of our human relationships). She smiled as she told me of something she'd been reading earlier, knowing that I would pick up on and extrapolate from it.These are the principles of this school of thought on natural horsepersonship:

1 Ask clearly and directly for what you want
2 Acknowledge a try, no matter how small
3 'Reward' that try by relieving any pressure
4 Let that be enough for the time being, each time...

Hmmm. Good guidelines.

And Libya
which must seem far from paradise at the moment. It's a strange thing, isn't it, recognising the wonderful things about being alive when it is also so full of suffering (which might be why it's important too to remember the positives).

I don't know if you are aware quite what huge successes the online petition campaigns have achieved in fighting for justice and change? particularly has been seen to be effective in mobilising world opinion to fight oppressive regimes etc. They're asking at the moment that we join forces to call for a no-fly zone to stop Qaddafi's airstrikes on the civilian population: 'The Libyan opposition has called on the international community to help "protect the Libyan people from the crimes against humanity being committed on them". The UK Foreign Secretary says "there are credible reports of the use of helicopter gunships against civilians by government forces."' If you haven't signed the petition but are happy to do so, this is the address:

This is to ask the UN Security Council to impose the ban; the petition needs to be delivered within the next 48 hours.

I had some thoughts. Another day!

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