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Every day is Earth Day.

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
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on Wednesday, 23 April 2014
Tuesday was Earth Day. I’m never quite sure what all these special days mean, or who invents them. For me, every day is earth day. This takes a literal form, since I spend a vast amount of time with bits of mud adhering to various parts of my body. (I still rue the day when I went round the whole village, smiling at the lady in the chemist, having a good chat with the butcher, only realising when I got home that I had a large smear of Scottish earth across my forehead.)
Tania Kindersley

Things of the earth are of particular immediacy at this time of year. There is of course the intensive tracking of the progress of the spring grass, for the horses. It is slow to come, and even this far into April, hay is still required. There is my own private springwatch. This morning, my heart lifted to see the first of the cherry blossom out. The sticky buds of the horse chestnuts have just exploded into stinging green leaves. The pied wagtails have arrived, and are flirting shamelessly, no better than they ought to be. As we groom the horses to get rid of the last of the winter coats, and great clumps of bay and chestnut hair fall to the ground, I think the birds’ nests will be very soft and colourful this year. Horse hair is one of their favourite ingredients, and by the time I go back for evening stables, it will all have been collected.
Tania Kindersley

It is the earthy things which also provide consolation. We have suffered a sad loss in the family, and hearts are sore. When mortality strikes, I find myself staring very hard at leaves and moss and lichen, as if the trees and the green grass and the old granite stone which is so much a feature of this part of the world can anchor me and keep me safe. The blue hills console too, with their ancient perspective. I look up at them and think they were here for millions of years before puny humans arrived, and they shall stand for millions more as the generations pass away. It may sound a little doomy, but I find it reassuring.

A friend had to go to stay in a city for the last couple of weeks. I was once a very urban creature, and loved the hard pavements of Soho with a burning passion. Now, I need the things of the earth. My friend said, as we were walking past the hills and along the beech avenue: ‘You know, there were no trees. I missed the trees.’ She paused, and we contemplated the arboreal magnificence. ‘We are so lucky,’ she said. ‘Some people have no trees.’ Of course there are trees in the cities. I remember always being astonished by how verdant London was, with huge old plane trees pushing up through the asphalt. But it’s not quite the same.
Tania Kindersley

I think the idea of Earth Day is to remind humans to cherish the planet, and understand its daily marvels. That surely must be a good thing. My own private resolution is never to take the growing things for granted. I am in very real danger of getting a bit Hello sky, hello clouds, and the old hippy in me is coming out and singing her song. But nature is a miracle, and I shall never be blasé about that.

A time of contrasts; or, the turning of the leaves.

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 02 October 2013
Out in the world, this time of year is filled with news from the party conferences, the creak and limber as the political world starts rolling again after the long summer break. In America, there is high drama as recalcitrant Republican members of Congress decide to bring the entire government to a halt. (It’s very hard to know exactly why, since none of the ostensible reasons are the actual reasons; sometimes I think it is just because they can.) Here, the various three-act operas revolve mostly around the arts of darkness admitted by Damian McBride in his oddly revelatory book, and the furious row over the Daily Mail and Ed Miliband’s father.

As my broadband signal winks in and out (possibly due to the gales which are coming roaring in from the west), I follow all this at a genteel distance. From time to time, I get worked up and yell at the radio. Then I fall to contemplating the much more important matter of the exact turning of the leaves.

The turning of the leaves, with a rather black Scottish sky behindThe turning of the leaves, with a rather black Scottish sky behind

Every year I try to work this out and every year I fail. Is it a hot summer which means the more vivid colours, or is it a wet one? Shall this long spell of dry mean that there will be no wild display, but autumn shall give way to winter with a sense of weariness and anti-climax? Is the changing of the season late this year?

I examine the trees with scientific interest and aesthetic hope. The beeches are still, in some places, as green as if it were July. There are one or two trees, too distant to identify, which have already gone a singing scarlet, and some, the chestnuts mostly, which are in an indeterminate state of yellowy nothing. The rosehips are the colour of rubies and the elders have their full complement of indigo berries. The sheep, who have no interest in leaf action, lie down crossly in the west meadow, as if they are staging a sit-in. The horses, ahead of the game as usual, are developing their teddy bear winter coats.

The elderberries.The elderberries.

I have an odd push-me pull-you life at this time of year. My desk work is demanding; I spend a lot of time at the computer, wrangling with words. I have a deadline coming and I squint furiously at the screen, willing myself to think faster.

Then, in complete contrast, I pull on my muddy boots and take Stanley the Dog out for his walk, where he hysterically chases pigeons and digs up perfectly enormous sticks. I stomp down to the field to see to the small equine herd, and everything is very earthy and about as far away from technology as you may imagine. It is then that I become acutely aware of where the weather is coming from, of the exact state of the leaves, of the direction of the wind, of all things elemental. It is then that the political bickering and the state of world events seem as distant as if I were living in 1913, not 2013. There are even moments when I gaze at the elderberries and think I should make them into cordial. (I think this every year, and I am never enough of a domestic goddess actually to do it.)

The beech avenue.The beech avenue.

And then I go back inside, where all the 21st century machines hum and blink at me, and the miracle of the internet turns me from parochialist to citizen of the world, and the external reality comes back with a rush, and I remember that there is a whole other parallel universe going on, where nobody much gives a damn what colour the beeches are. I quite like that I maintain a faint obsession about the leaves. It’s a bit hello clouds, hello sky, but it feels like a rooted sense of reality in amidst all those shouting voices on the radio. The voices come and go, but the trees endure.

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