In the first lockdown when the sun was out and the sky was blue and it felt like a treat not to have to commute, I read so many books about nature, Joanna Macy, and climate change. I also read Wilding by Isabella Tree and agreed! But I don’t own acres so I couldn’t exactly see what I could do in the way that she and her husband turned their arable farm into a wild sanctuary.
Instead I did bits. I left bits of the grass un-mown, I planted wild, bee-attracting flowers and herbs, I planted trees, I built a log pile, I started composting again. I got to know the names of my plants and my trees and learned about their qualities and stories. Small things.
I also got in touch with Deborah who I met 4 years ago, only twice I think, at a time when I remember her talking a little about moving to Portugal. We stayed in touch on Facebook and I liked her page when she started sharing what she was doing out there.
As we talked last night on my podcast, me from my centrally heated house on the icy borders of Wales and she in her home in central Portugal, I felt such a sense of longing for what she described. Called from her corporate life commuting into London, by an 11 hectare patch of mono-culture, Deborah has let herself be led and changed by the land.
She knew nothing, had done nothing like it before and yet as we spoke on Zoom, she shone as she told me stories about dogs arriving, bees soothing conflict, woodland healing and communities forming. What she described is what I felt to be true in the summer, in my garden under the trees; that life is much simpler than we think it is and that it is not nature who needs us, but we who need she.
You can find more about Deborah, the project and her coaching work work below.
Here’s an article about water that Deborah mentioned changed her thinking: https://www.tamera.org/article-the-new-water-paradigm-global-climate-and-ecosystem-restoration/
Deborah also mentioned doing a permaculture course and you can listen to Steve Jones talk about his permaculture background here.