Wildwood, A Journey Through Trees

Roger Deakin’s article in this weeks Guardian Review starts off with one of the best illustrations of biophilia and connection with nature I have read in a while …

I wonder if the swallows that nest in the chimney of my Suffolk farmhouse have the faintest idea how profoundly they affect my emotions. When they first arrive from the south in spring, and I hear the thrumming of their wingbeats amplified to a boom by the hollow brickwork, my heart leaps. They seem to bless the house with the spirit of the south; the promise of summer. Swallows have such a strong homing instinct that it is quite possible this same family of birds, by now an ancient dynasty, has been returning here to nest for the 450 summers since the chimney was built.

When the household swallows fly away to Africa, I get restless. I suppose I envy them. I certainly miss standing by the fireplace at night, eavesdropping on their dormitory conversations in the mud nests above. Swallows never fail to stir the nomad in me, too.

Do read the rest of the article Follow the swallows: Roger Deakin’s days hitchhiking to the sun, it is a great read, a rights of passage of schoolboy french, heading south, hitchhiking delights of the 2CV or Citroen DS, the goddess of the French road. It rekindles in me my my own memories of hitch hiking down through France, sleeping on Corsican beaches, grape picking and climbing around the Mediterranean.

1344371Roger Deakin is one of our great nature writers (and ‘an icon’ of the environmentalist movement) and I would certainly recommend Wildwood, A Journey through Trees, not least for the description of a living building – his home at Walnut Tree Farm, … “evolved rather than designed … riding the earths constant movement … The proportions of each room and of the house as a whole were predicated on the natural proportions of the trees available”

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