Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Far Carrying Cry


"A moor without Curlew is like a night without the moon, and he who has not eyes for the one and an ear for the other is a mere body without a soul". These words were written by an acquaintance of George Bolam and were included in his Birds of Northumberland and the Eastern Borders in 1912.






I have a beautiful facsimile book (one of 300 copies) called 'The Birds of Staffordshire' by Alexander M. McAldowie originally published in 1893. He was vice president of the then North Staffordshire Naturalist Field Club. In the preface of the book it states 'It is hoped that the publication of this work will promote an interest in Staffordshire bird life, and prevent the destruction of many beautiful species which are now being ruthlessly exterminated'.

In this book it is written that Curlew breed on the moorlands in the north of the county; that Mr Brocklehurst reported that it occasionally bred on the Swythamley estate and that a Mr Masefield had recorded this species near Cheadle during the winter of 1886-1887. Sightings in other parts of the county of Staffordshire were also noted in this publication.

I have another facsimile book also called 'The Birds of Staffordshire' by T.Smith which was originally published in 1939 and originally published as an appendices to the nine Annual Reports of what was then the North Staffordshire Field Club between 1930 and 1938. It is the best summary of the incidence of different bird species in Staffordshire during the 50 - 60 years prior to 1930. There are only 200 facsimile books in circulation.

The Birds of Staffordshire (1939) reported that Curlew were numerous on Morridge and the Roaches in the Staffordshire Moorlands during the summer and had extended their range to Swineholes Ridge near the village of Foxt. The book refers to Swineholes Ridge and I know it today as Ipstones Edge (my wildlife patch) but there is a wood at its summit called Swineholes Wood. The book goes on to report that they arrive on the hills of the Staffordshire Moorlands in spring often during the latter half of March. A Mr B. R. S. Pemberton observed a Curlew flock near Warslow not yet paired on March 23rd 1923.

The West Midland Bird Club book The New Birds of the West Midlands (2005) reports that the largest concentrations of Curlew have been observed at two spring roosts in North Staffordshire where birds gather in March prior to returning to their breeding territories.

Returning to the book The Birds of Staffordshire (1939) it is noted from observation that every year Curlew flew over the Churnet and Middle Dove Valleys to and from their breeding sites, sometimes travelling very high, at others many yards from the ground. In 1910 they were observed passing through the lower Staffordshire Moorlands near the village of Whiston (above the Churnet valley/near Ipstones Edge) as early as March 12th and as late as April 17th of that year and on to the heaths nearby occasionally loitering temporarily, but without ever remaining to nest.

With Ipstones Edge being my local patch where I spend time with nature I see and hear Curlew along the ridge and on the slopes of the ridge most years. I love the bird, insect and mammal relatives I see here and long to return when I am away from the Staffordshire Moorlands. I see Ipstones Edge every day and know which bird and mammal relatives live there. I have many stories to tell of my sightings and experiences here from across the years.

One interesting account in The Birds of Staffordshire (1939) reported by J. Armitage was that of Curlews being noisy when breeding and evincing much unrest if intruders appear too near their charges; that in those days keepers encouraged Curlew for the protection of Red grouse by driving off Carrion crows and by giving warning of trespassers.

Also of note in the 1939 book is a report that occasionally in late spring a sitting bird can be seen on the nest surrounded by snow. The field notes from this book reported that Curlew traverse all of lowland Staffordshire and noted a number of sightings elsewhere in the county south of the Staffordshire Moorlands.

One particular sighting that interests me is from August 7th 1906 when a large flock of Curlew were seen in flight passing over the small town of Stone. It was reportedly very dark but for some minutes their wing-beats were audible, their cries incessant as they flew from the south-west in the wake of a thunderstorm. Later on August 27th 1906 another large flock of Curlew crossed Stone at 3a.m travelling in the same direction.

The Birds of Staffordshire (1939) highlights the fact that Curlew retired from the hills towards the lowlands about midsummer or soon after with almost all departed by mid-August. Observations also included some Curlew leaving the north Staffordshire moors and upland hills on June 14th 1912 and many times they had been seen crossing over the market town of Leek following this date. In those days Curlew were rarely seen on the moors in autumn and winter. Every year following the breeding season I see small flocks of Curlew in fields near the market town of Cheadle, and the village of Denstone, Staffordshire Moorlands.


The Staffordshire Moorlands from Gibb Tor


I've just read some interesting research about the fortunes of the Curlew in a book called Birds in England (2005) by Andy Brown and Phil Grice and learned that in the north Staffordshire Moors in 1985, 1992 and 1996 surveys of Curlew revealed 418, 280 and 173 pairs respectively which indicated a major problem for the birds upland breeding grounds here. The number of pairs will have reduced since then.

Another interesting book I have is The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland by J.T.R.Sharrock published in 1976 which includes a fascinating feature on the breeding fortunes of this wader species at this time.

The excellent Bird Atlas 2007-11 The Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland (2013) reveals the loss of breeding Curlews from most of Ireland and parts of western Britain over the last 40 years as a key finding from this atlas. Since the 1967-72 Breeding Atlas the range has contracted by 78% in Ireland (losses mostly in last 20 years) and 17% in Britain. There was a 44% population decline in the UK during the period 1995-2010 (BBS Report 2011) and a 78% decline in Ireland during the same period (CBS Report 2010). Back in 2011 the highest breeding concentrations of Curlew continued to be in Northern England, eastern Scotland and the Northern Isles.

It is now 2016 and here in the Staffordshire Moorlands and during my regular springtime/early summer hikes to my local moors including Ipstones Edge and foray's to the Pennine hills and Forest of Bowland I continue to hear the mellow, rippling, bubbling and low whistle/fluting/courli calls of the Curlew. At the same time while I listen to and see this beautiful species I know only too well that a variety of factors largely human driven and predation by other wildlife relatives has contributed significantly to a declining population...and what about climate change and its impact now and in years to come.

Hiding on my bookshelf is a slim publication (species specific) from the Shire Natural History series called The Curlew by Gerry Cotter published in 1990 with contents including Curlew country, Voice, The breeding cycle, food and feeding, migration and enemies. It is a small gem in natural history writing.



The Staffordshire Knot and the Curlew


....and finally what would the Staffordshire Moorlands be like without Curlew, the largest wader species in the western palearctic. For me Wolf Edge, Knotbury, Three Shire Head, Gibb Tor, The Roaches,  Morridge, Ipstones Edge and the fields around Cheadle and Denstone would be empty of song and voice, of poetry and musical beauty, empty of a wonderful feathered friend. No doubt I would weep and there would be pain, loss and grief. Perhaps I would sit, watch, wait and listen to the ghosts of this species in vast moorland spaces with only memories of what was once a thriving bird in this part of the world, only memories of what used to be.

Lets hope it is not too late; that coordinated conservation efforts and improved farming practices will lead to an increase in the Curlew population; that this bird’s very survival will be secured.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Doctrine of Violence

This is the new beginning, the moment when I must write once again and speak for the spirit of nature; speak out for the Badger my relative, your relative. The Badger has a voice but people choose not to open their ears to listen or to hear it. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a wild Badger, other wild mammal or bird? They fear us, they fear my species and for good reason. They fear that we will kill them and let’s be truthful my species are responsible for widespread bird, mammal and insect elimination in huge numbers in this country. The state of nature here is poor, we are not safe to be around; and collectively we are an irresponsible super predator, a wildlife killing machine. 

We pollute the land, the water, the air we breathe, we destroy habitat and we kill Badgers, one of many wildlife relatives. I see this clearly in my mind every day and it hurts. It hurts me deeply; it hurts me profoundly to know and to see the suffering of this beautiful mammal and its family. I hear them crying out for protection, crying out to be left in peace, crying out to be allowed to live and I am not alone in this experience.  The situation for the badger is fragile and I and many wildlife defenders and Earth warriors in this country are also crying. We want what the Badger wants. We want the Badgers right to life to be honoured, to be respected and protected.

Whatever happened to the sacred relationship we had with our planet, with nature, the natural world, with wildlife, with the Badger? It is being forgotten by many of us in England with many people disconnected from nature and who seemingly just dont care. But remember Badgers are a beautiful mammal, an integral part of the dynamic diversity of wildlife in this country and we should be celebrating the Badger not eliminating it.




In the here and now many people in Britain including Government politicians show disregard and scant respect for wildlife including the Badger, Fox, Deer, Brown hare, Hen harrier, Bee and many more of our relatives. What does this say about our values as humans in this country? Frankly it reveals a lot about who we are as a nation, what we have become, and our appalling indifference and selfishness in regard to the killing of wildlife and indeed the Badger who are about to suffer a further massacre. Consider this; what are we handing down to our children, future generations of children and future generations of wild mammals, birds and insects.  We as a nation need to pull back from the brink of this wildlife disaster we are creating.   
 
Unsafe humans, unstable humans, risky, cruel and violent humans supported by politically toxic politicians all lacking in compassion and empathy (something they were not taught during childhood by their elders) are killing Badgers. They follow a doctrine of violence, a road map and see the killing of Badger as their manifest right. It does not matter what you or I think, their blind and steadfast arrogance will not allow for acknowledgment of our concerns, wishes or feelings or the feelings of the Badger. The path they choose to follow alongside ill informed unethical policy (ignoring science and research), using gun and bullet is nothing more than a pathway of inhumanity, violence and killing against a wild defenceless mammal. Their wish is to make life not possible for the Badger.  As a result I fear a road to extinction lies ahead in the years to come for this mammal, a process of elimination from the countryside driven by unscrupulous land owning, farm owning individuals and others with a lust for killing and financial profit.

There is beauty in every drop of water and in equal measure there is beauty in the blood and life of the Badger and in all wildlife of this nation. The national wave of protest continues against the British Conservative Government, their associates and the planned killing of more than 2000 Badgers this year in the English counties of Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset.  We make a stand against this senseless cruelty and we must keep on going and we must bring peace to the countryside and peace and safety to the secret and beautiful world of the Badger.

There is law and there is natural law and we were put on this Earth for a reason. We have purpose, the purpose of which is to support the circle of life, to revere and love nature, and to revere and support the natural world. The badger plays a significant, crucial part in the circle of life which must not be ignored by the people of this country. We must stop those humans from disrupting and destroying the circle of life. We cannot have an imbalance in nature, an imbalance in the web of life, an imbalance in the lives and population of the Badger.  




Together we can and we must demand from this government a restoration of our countryside, a restoration of the poor state of nature and an end to the killing of Badgers and other wildlife. The Fox, Deer, Brown hare, Hen harrier, the Bee and many other species are equally at risk. We must protect and love the Badger like we would wish to protect, love and care for our mother Earth. The Badger and its life depends on whether it will be hit by a bullet or not. This is the unhealthy state of play in this country of nations and the Badger needs our staying power, thus we must not walk away from this.

We have been given a voice, we use our voice to speak out and act for the Badger and in using our voice with reasoned thought we know that we have a responsibility to our relative, a responsibility to respect and protect the Badger from those whose intention is to cause harm and to kill. We should not be put in a position by the Conservative Government of this country whereby we spend our daily lives week in, week out worrying about the safety of our wildlife and Badger, worrying about super predator humans out there on killing missions to kill Badger and other wildlife but the reality is we are and we must continue to fight and to put up resistance. The struggle continues.

You and I must teach our children from the early stages of life to have empathy and to be respectful of the Badger, all wildlife, nature and the world upon which we live. The Badger gives us so much joy and we must give much more back to this beautiful mammal in terms of respect and love. We have put up with the senseless slaughter of Badger for far too long in England and this mammal needs our help to live in peace, to survive and to thrive free from the risk of being killed.  We cannot wait day after day for the Conservative Government to change its mode of operation, to change its violent mind set or to make the fundamental changes needed to protect the Badger from loss of life.

With compassion and empathy we must now rise up in peace with the support of non violent direct action for a better future, a safer future for the Badger and the Badger population in this country. It does not matter what you’re cultural or ethnic background is, whether you live in a city, town, village or countryside, it does not matter what your way of life is or how much money you have. What matters is our resolve, our resilience and the need to honour our connection with Mother Earth and the web of life; that in doing so we respect and protect the life of the Badger.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Gentle Angels of Gaia


In the summer and autumn of 2013 I was profoundly worried for this nations protected mammal, the badger. A devious, callous, calculating and collectively abusive mindset was at play. Conservative politicians, government ministers, some farmers and the National Farmers Union made ill judged decisions (supported by a lack of care, compassion and respect for wildlife) that led to the terrible deaths of many Badgers in England's Gloucestershire and Somerset wilds. This happened despite overwhelming scientific research, evidence and opinion which concluded that the cull or killing of badgers should not happen and for good reason.

For those humans who killed the badgers in question this was a serious personal error of judgement and completely naive. The line was crossed and a sense of balance between the rights of landowners, farmers and the rights of the badger were lost. Badgers died and those who killed this beautiful mammal on mass caused huge outrage and anguish to those of us including myself who care about wildlife and nature. Our feelings, opinions and protest in whatever form were disregarded, ignored and trampled over.   

Scientific research and opinion was willfully ignored by the establishment and its supporters, hence the cruelty, abuse and inhumane killing of the beautiful badger took place in hours of darkness every day over a number of weeks. It was a desperate situation, a despicable atrocity, a human war against defenseless badgers, their families, against wildlife, nature, the web of life and natural law. The atrocity was repeated in the summer and autumn of 2014 despite an honourable, peaceful people protest against the will of the Conservative led government, the farming industry and the National Farmers Union. Indeed behind the scenes in the Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Natural England there were unnamed individuals who colluded with the Conservative led governments will to kill badgers.

On the first evening of  badger slaughter I was personally very distressed and like many people I was emotionally exhausted, only to aware that the killing had began  and so with a very heavy heart, many tears and in candlelight I wrote a poem called 'We Will Not Return'.



                             

                                                           We Will Not Return


                                                           Guns loaded, silencers fitted,
                                                           triggers pulled. This Is
                                                           the eve of slaughter.  The
                                                           ruthless human, no mercy, no
                                                           care, no compassion, no feeling.
                                                           THEM

                                                           Badgers cry, my heart sad,
                                                           my earthly thoughts awash
                                                           with sorrow, screaming. I
                                                           kneel toward the altar of life,
                                                           their pain, their despair, their
                                                           tears, their blood.

                                                           Run, run, run my friends,
                                                           my beautiful wild friends

                                                           Across the fields and 
                                                           through the woods
                                                           they go, the badgers flee.
                                                           Some fall, others stumble,
                                                           bullets and danger follow.
                                                           Their voices, their torment,
                                                           squeals heard on the
                                                           wind. 

                                                           Trembling bloodied badgers
                                                           gather, fear etched in
                                                           expression, hurt, not safe.
                                                           No space, no time, no place, no
                                                           tomorrow.  What have some
                                                           humans become?

                                                           Here there is no peace, no
                                                           quiet, no stillness, nowhere to
                                                           dream, to roam, no sett, no
                                                           home. We will not return,
                                                           they will not let us live
                                                           THEM

                                                           Angels wander among wild 
                                                           lives, among badger souls and
                                                           wounded friends at
                                                           journeys end. Then the
                                                           silence, sunshine, a new
                                                           dawn, a new eve, wild lives
                                                           subdued.
                                                  

What is it about the thinking and feeling of the human who decides it is a good idea to kill wild animals, wild badgers for that matter? Some call it hunting, some call it sport (some dress for the occassion), some call it fun, others say (as in the case of the badger) that it is good for business that it protects financial profit and farming assets. The pound rules! In my opinion these people are experiencing a complete disconnection with wildlife, nature and the natural world.

Is the life of a wild animal so cheap that its life can be discarded, disrespected, ignored, dispatched? When badgers were killed in Gloucestershire and Somerset the taking of their lives was a bloody and cruel affair. It was a breach of the badgers right to live, its right to life, its right to live its life safely on this planet in peace alongside the human and all others species. We who revere, respect and love wildlife also have a right to live peacefully with the badger and other wildlife.

In the disastrous proceedings of the badger cull or should I say killing I heard many phrases used in the debate on the rights and wrongs of killing badgers and I was in despair. "Controlled shooting" said some, "tried and tested methods of trapping and shooting" said others. "Gassing" was mentioned by royalty and others but deplored by the many and then there were those who talked of "effective and humane killing" of badgers. In the wild there is no such thing as effective and humane killing of badgers and there never will be. What took place was a human pre-occupation with the planning and overseeing of the act of killing badgers. Killing, killing, killing!

There is something deep rooted and very worrying going on in the mind, soul and spirit of the human who consciously makes a decision to kill wild badgers and then act on that decision. It is an inadequacy of thinking with violence, cruelty and abuse at the heart of the human mindset. Humans have the capacity to be violent towards its own species and wildlife and to kill its own species and wildlife. Wrapped up in all of this is the human use of language to minimize and justify its violent actions. There is absolutely no human justification for killing a wild animal and no justification for killing a badger.

In the weeks that passed and when the initial round of killing had come to an end I wrote a second poem called 'Gentle Angels' in memory of all those individual badgers who died at the hands of violent humans, their guns and their bullets.



                                                            Gentle Angels

                                                            The souls of badgers taken,
                                                            thoughts removed, feelings
                                                            disregarded. Blood flows
                                                            under a harvest moon, life
                                                            fading, a wild life no more.

                                                            In the shadows a mind-set lurks,
                                                            violence, cleansing, an atrocity
                                                            of thought, killing by human
                                                            hand. When will this end I cry,
                                                            we cry, you cry.

                                                            When will the killing stop and
                                                            the fields once more be free,
                                                            the woodlands free, the hills
                                                            free, the badgers free from
                                                            human war.

                                                            Nations of trees stand firm
                                                            with calls of disquiet, of fury,
                                                            while tears flow from the leaves
                                                            of autumn, from the canopy of
                                                            compassion, of care and of
                                                            love.

                                                            Gentle angels of Gaia, of
                                                            Animate Earth take care
                                                            of me, of my family, of
                                                            badgers fallen. Lead us to
                                                            safety, to rest in peace, to
                                                            dwell and to sleep in
                                                            nature’s beauty.


We have to look beyond the science, beyond the evidence, beyond those politicians, ministers, farming union officials, farmers, shooters, all those who are guilty or complicit in the killing of badgers. They need to examine their own humanity, to take a long hard look at themselves, search their soul, and reflect on their part in the wrong doing they committed against the badger population of this nation. Never again must these individuals be allowed to ignore and ride roughshod over scientific research, evidence and opinion. Ultimately, they must not be allowed to ignore the will of the people and must learn to be non-violent as part of their world view and to be non-violent  towards wild animals including the badger. We cannot allow the cruelty of human violence and inhumanity to be waged against the life of any badger and its family.




Sunday, 12 April 2015

Goodness of Nature











                                                              Goodness of Nature

  
                                                              The voice of the human is
                                                              gone for now, stillness has
                                                              returned, a Song thrush
                                                              sings. The wood is the place
                                                              of my thoughts and today’s
                                                              endeavors. I will not move
                                                              but will share time with
                                                              the goodness of nature.

                                                              The spring is beautiful
                                                              today, the glorious
                                                              birdsong of the valley, the
                                                              hum of the bumblebee,
                                                              life returning,life emerging, 
                                                              life telling her story.

                                                              I touch the soil beneath
                                                              discarded leaves of autumn,
                                                              the soil from which I was
                                                              born, the soil I shall return
                                                              to at life’s passing. These are
                                                              just my thoughts in the
                                                              moment but I shall smile
                                                              for now.

                                                              The light of the sun is
                                                              dipping  behind trees, its
                                                              warmth declining, a Tawny
                                                              owl calls from the wooded
                                                              hillside, a gentle Robin
                                                              returns to the nest. The cool
                                                              dusk is my silence, my peace,
                                                              my journey's end this very
                                                              day.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Life Not Permanent



Life is not permanent on this planet; it never has been and never will be. My species and all other species have no control over this. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about extinction of species in the biological sense. In the world today there are 505 known mammal species vulnerable to extinction, 478 are endangered and 211 at critical risk of extinction. This does not take into account the many other non mammal species also faced with these risks or inevitable fate. When I see photographs or paintings of those species no longer with us and whom have died out in recent years, in my life time I experience a deep rooted sense of sadness. Am I allowed to feel sadness in relation species extinction, complete loss of kith and kin, brothers and sisters of the other than human world? Do other members of my species allow me to acknowledge these senses? Do I care what they think about my grief in relation to this complex issue? The answer to the latter is yes I do. 

The fossil record today tells us the story of five mass extinctions, a large numbers of species at different epochs in geological time who lived their lives on this planet and then died out. These once living species were unable to survive destructive global events on a scale you and I have not seen or experienced. Indeed many were unable to adapt to widespread changes in the context of the ecosystems in which they lived and thrived. Ultimately, the species that died coming at or at the end of the Ordovician, Devonian, Triassic, and Cretaceous periods were not safe. The Permian extinction 245 million years ago lost an estimated 90 per cent of species while the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago lost an estimated 75 per cent of species.

I am animal and all species living on the planet today including my species are not safe, and when we are gone we will not return. No creature will be untouched by extinction across geological time. I know that I live in an age of human stupidity but alongside my sadness I also smile at the thought that in time my species including I will be seen as mineralized bones, relics, remnants, and a representation of a different life form that once existed in a past geological age. This demonstrates to me that nothing is permanent, not even life on Earth. At any rate in about 7.6 billion years the sun within the context of its own evolution will expand and consume our home the Earth.

All around me the process of ongoing background extinction of individual species is taking place right under my nose, a response to human driven environmental and ecological influence thus bringing about climate change, disease, loss of habitat, the biggest killers. Human violence against nature in the form of pollution of land, water and air is in my book an ongoing war against the natural world, against the planet. Whilst many birds, mammals, insects, amphibians, fish and creatures of the sea are at risk of extinction we in turn are at risk from ourselves, from our own ‘business as usual’ mind-set and from behaviour which wreaks havoc upon this Earth.  

All species in all ecosystems around the world are being affected at any one time. It is not just a matter of evolution or the survival of the strongest, or natural selection. For many species it is not just about ‘adapt or die’ on this world today. They are merely trying to survive the onslaught that is waged against them by my species and in turn we are creating a world which over time is becoming uninhabitable.

With or without us the Earth and nature will re-balance however painful this will be to our species. In the meantime the thought of human driven extinction of non-human creatures and my part in this disturbs me greatly; it runs deep in my heart, my soul and my spirit for I know that time is rapidly slipping away for many non-human creatures and their livelihoods on this world. I am only to aware that I and my species are bringing tears to their nations, I hear them weep, I hear them cry, I see their eyes, I sense their fear of the human, and I see them run, swim away or take flight.  I love them all, I want to reach out to them, comfort them, care for them, share the world with them for they are my friends and my love for them will last forever.


Saturday, 4 April 2015

I Am I






                                                          I Am I


                                                          Sitting on an old log I reflect
                                                          on the everlasting music of
                                                          my life, chapter and verse.
                                                          Like the Tawny owl perched
                                                          in day time I am solitary in
                                                          thought.

                                                          The silence, the peace, the
                                                          gentle quiet of it all, dreams
                                                          forgotten, dreams untold. I
                                                          pause, I look back, I look
                                                          forward, the present is my
                                                          future.

                                                          Eyes closed, eyes open
                                                          I hear the plants, the trees,
                                                          the rustle of passing years,
                                                          the warmth of nature's song. 

                                                          I am on this Earth, my
                                                          home, Mother Earth. She 
                                                          does not belong to me, my 
                                                          spirit belongs to her. I am
                                                          humbled for I am I  and as
                                                          old as she is.



Friday, 3 April 2015

Quiet Revolution for Nature

How many hours of your spare time do you spend in front of a screen or more than one screen perhaps watching television, playing games consoles, using a mobile phone, computer or tablet? Have you ever thought about how far removed and disconnected your mindset and senses are from nature?  We touch the planet we call Earth every day, we breathe its air, drink and taste its water, eat its food, use its natural medicine but many of us have lost sight of how to listen to nature, to experience joy from nature.

Many of us in the so called developed western world dominated by technology and digital gadgetry do not hold sacred the Earth, we do not revere nature and we do not live sustainable lives.  Some of us may not know it but we are trashing the planet, its habitats, its ecosystems, its biosphere and are needlessly and selfishly killing wildlife who live along side us. Globalization, the name of the game and another form of economic colonialism is failing nature, failing people, failing birds, insects, fish, land and ocean going mammals. It is failing the health of the Earth and through the globalized production of junk we buy the digital media and technology we dont need. Perhaps the quiet revolution for nature could include the ditching of some of this junk.

Humans of all ages are overwhelmed with what I call the restless mind, a mind full of thinking distractions, chattering conversations, individual worries and concerns all conspiring to prevent us from living in the moment, from being mindful and attentive and furthermore preventing us from tuning in to nature and the natural world we are part of. We are part of the fragile web of life on this planet and we need to respect it and protect it but first we must be able to care for nature and listen to it.

Every day we are on the receiving end of unhealthy dictates from government regimes, politicians, political spin doctors, big business, corporations, and industrialists. Polluters of the planet I call them, misguided people with power, money and the capacity to pay for influence through lobbying and advertisement. It’s an all-encompassing global network of wealthy individuals, a small percentage of humans who tell us how to lead our lives, who tell us what we need and how and where to spend the money we earn. They feed us an illusion of materialism, provide us with access to the goods I call junk which they use to great effect to control our lives.  They decide what wealth we may accumulate and influence our thoughts with the support of digital media and technology knowing that we will make maximum use of screen time. This they believe is what makes the world go round and they need the digital technology to communicate this to us in order to maintain their wealth, their assets, power and misguided life styles. 

I now return full circle to the issue of excessive use of screens, television, games consoles, mobile phones, computers, tablets and human disconnection from nature.  After all we are nature, we are part of nature but somehow because of the distractions imposed on us some of us do not recognize this. I am only scratching the surface of what is a complex issue that affects all of us and the health of the planet.

Humans of all ages need time without the internet, without emails, without texts, without social networks, without gaming and digital technology. Excessive use of this technology and the platforms we access contributes significantly to an unhealthy human disconnection from nature.

All humans need freedom, space and time to explore nature, to listen to nature, to connect with the landscape and sounds of nature, to feel nature. We need disconnection time from screens, internet content, digital devices and technology.  Human connectivity with a plethora of devices is not a fundamental need all of the time. This technology is unhealthy, it consumes us, consumes our senses, can make us sick, can overwhelm us. Freedom from all of this for some of the time is fundamental in any given week on any given day. For those of us old enough do you remember what life was like before the internet and mobile phones?

Adults and children need interaction with nature and to learn from nature. Learning from nature is important for a healthy mind, soul and spirit. It is learning from nature and the experience of walking quietly with nature that brings about positive change in us, in our moods and in our activities day to day.

Do we want a future where humans have little or no understanding of nature, no appreciation or awareness of nature, and no opportunity to experience nature through their senses? What are we doing to ourselves, to each other and in turn to our living, breathing planet? When was the last time you truly noticed a tree, a river, a lake, bird song, the setting sun, the fading light, the darkness that follows, the call of an owl? When did you last look to the stars, the moon, planets and clouds above you?  Perhaps some humans have lost sight of nature around them, above them and below them because of the interference of technology, the fast pace of life and the many distractions of so called modern living?

We are often told at work, in everyday life and through digital media that this is important and this is important and this is important, that we need to worry about this, this and this. We are pulled in many directions and lose sight of who we are, lose sight of the fact that we are animal and lose sight of the fact that we are nature. All of us need to take a step back from this, challenge the forces at play and say no it is nature that is important, it is the Earth our home, its ecosystems and biosphere and non human species who share this planet with us that is important. 

I believe all humans need to have a deep relationship with nature, with the soil, the trees, the plants, water, land and the air we breathe. We do not need a time consuming, one dimensional relationship with screens, internet content, television, games consoles, mobile phones, computers, or tablets. Now is the time to partake in a quiet revolution for nature. Let’s get rid of the stuff we do not need, let’s simplify and de-clutter our lives, let’s slow down and just be who we are, a part of nature, living in peace with each other and with all other non-human animals of this planet, our home, their home.

Close your eyes and listen to the flow of life, the flow of water, the falling rain and the voice of the wind streaming through the branches and leaves of the trees. I leave you with this thought.