Author Archives: Gillian

A Foot in Both Worlds

Posted on: July 6th, 2012 by
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Who remembers the long-running T.V. series “A Little House on the Prairie”? It was actually based on a series of nine children’s books by Laura Ingalls Wilder which documented her childhood living out in the newly settled wilds of America in the 1870’s and 1880’s. I am currently just nearing the end of the sixth book, “The Long Winter”. In it, Laura and her family have recently settled out on the prairie in North Dakota in a tiny community which is less than a year old. Before they can properly establish themselves there, they have to endure a very severe winter which lasts from October until may of the following year, during which time they are constantly assailed by ferocious blizzards and bitter temperatures of –40 degrees and lower. They come perilously close to both freezing and starving to death. Unlike  their old way of life back in the forests of the east, the new settlers, (enticed by government grants and promises) cannot now survive without outside intervention. Basic supplies such as coal, kerosine and basic foods stuffs have to be brought in regularly by railroad to make existence in the open wilderness possible. Until the growth of the industrial revolution and the colonising of far-flung and totally disparate parts of the globe, communities were largely self-sufficient and independent. Life was often hard and infinitely precarious but the trials and tribulations of the small, regular day to day activities helped to keep one sharply focused on survival. Today a high percentage of people in the west have everything supplied to them. If we are to thrive and grow, physically and spiritually, we definitely need to move away from a life that is totally devoted to little more than basic survival. We must have the time and space to make decisions from choice, not just necessity, to reflect, meditate, develop. Conversely whilst needing the leisure to learn and grow, we mustn’t loose the focus and connection which working and living in tandem with the basics of life automatically gives us. In 2012 we are incredibly lucky! We can still connect with the bedrock of our existence yet have the safety-net of modern convenience to allow us our physical, emotional and spiritual freedom. Like the mystical “travellers between the worlds” we can all walk with one foot on each level of existence: the primitive world of basic survival and the advanced, refined society which can provide – and guarantee – a good degree of space, freedom and security. From here we can much more easily learn and grow on many diverse levels. As I stand looking up the rain sodden field towards the Hafod, looking for all the world like a very little house on the Welsh prairie, I am engulfed with excitement! Here in this untamed corner of north west Wales, we are all being automatically given the unique opportunity to sample this duality of experience and achievement. Whoever comes here, no matter how long or short their stay, cannot avoid it. Would you be brave enough to accept the challenge? ….. and what would you make of it if you did?

Damage Limitation

Posted on: July 1st, 2012 by
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Needless to say, after the glorious weather that we have been enjoying this last couple of weeks or so, everything on the land is surging ahead! The ground is finally beginning to dry out; the herbage to sprout rapidly; the established trees to break out in velvety pussy willow and the first tender pale green leaves. The picture here was taken before the leaves had begun to emerge and only the little blobs of soft down are visible. We have seen the first bumble bees haphazardly navigating their way around the field… last summer we noticed that there are a lot of little wild colonies buried in the long grasses. And last Saturday, as we were sitting enjoying our very first barbeque in celebration of Dafydd’s birthday, we watched, spellbound, as a hare slowly lollopped across the neighbouring field and then sat watching us for a few moments before continuing on its unhurried way. I suspect that it had been down to the stream to drink. We have a couple of ducks who are quite taken with our island and its surrounding channel, although they do not enjoy the dogs wild cavorting and tend to take off over the hedge in a flurry of feathers and noisy quacking whenever golden fur is even vaguely scented! All this firmly draws my attention to the fact that this land is already the home of so many wild animals, birds and insects and that we must really do our best to cause the least disruption… not easy when out of necessity one has to dig things up and chop things down to establish a viable environment for us all to enjoy. It never ceases to amaze me how accommodating and forgiving nature is when it comes to coping with the selfish thoughtless actions and blundering crass behaviour of humankind. Even in my joy at creating something new with the earth, it grieves me to realise just what a traumatic occurrence our coming must have been. This applies to all of us, wherever we go and whatever we do. We tread upon tiny lives, breaking and bruising plants – even the grass generously accepts our thoughtless abuse. I also realise that we are what we are and cannot help a lot of it… we have to walk, sit, lie, eat… but perhaps if we become more aware, and teach our children to be more aware too, then we can mitigate some of the damage we cause with loving attention, care and above all gratitude.