In The Plotting Shed

In The Plotting Shed
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Sunday, 1 November 2015

Transience #amwriting

I've been musing lately on how impermanent we are, as people I mean. The houses, trees, the very earth itself will be here when we've gone and that's okay. It lifts the weight of responsibility to realise this, somehow.
I've been reading up about the English Civil War for my current project, The Rose Trail, and lately I've come across the outlaws who lived in the forests and woodlands. Like the myth of Robin Hood they lived amongst the trees, out of sight and governance of the local landlords and tax collectors. They selectively did rob the rich and protected the vulnerable.
It seems many people lived like this before, according to that excellent book, The Death of Nature, capitalism reared its ugly, long lasting, head in the 1300s. Before that, land wasn't enclosed or claimed by owners who built boundaries that kept out those who foraged within its leafy embrace. These people, and I don't think Carolyn Merchant wore rose coloured specs when she wrote this influential book, lived co-operatively. They shared income, food - deer, rabbits, mushrooms, berries - from the forest, together with their labour. The trees provided both shelter and fuel. I don't think it could have been a soft, easy life but it resonated with me in a surprising way. Reared in a family who believe fiercely in material success as a measure of achievement, I bonded with these ancient woodlanders, feeling that, across almost a millennia, I had found my true ancestors, who shared a more gentle set of aspirations about what constitutes a successful life.
These personal discoveries are fuelling some fruitful thoughts about the story. I'm not committing them to page yet but they are fomenting nicely in the back of my head and I hope the Rose Trail will be all the richer for it.







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