Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My heart lies in the forest

After recent events in Paris, one of the few memorable reactions on my Twitter feed was from a woman bewildered and feeling the cold shock of a secure hold on daily life slipping away. I cling to my land, she said. I don't know if she meant it literally or metphorically but it brings up once again the question of landscape as comfort and stability. It is the familiarity of 'one's own' physical territory that offers a sense of consistency that can be relied upon in a world that is changing alarmingly before our aging eyes. Those of us who believed our generation would at least never see another world war begin to doubt that flimsy hope, as layer upon layer of hatred, intolerance and misconception flattens and stunts the potential of  humanity.
The rate of change in landscape can be as rapid as a fallen building, or as gradual as the creeping threat of floods with climate change, but we like to feel it remote in our immediate surroundings, at the millenia speed of eroding granite.We have been startled in Brittany to discover last week that the state is to sell off some of our forests, those symbols of life before human settlement, of the longevity that spawns legends. Forests that were once noisy places of human abode and economic activity are now mostly silent and dressed in recreational attire of finger-posts and picnic tables. Is this an identity to be perpetuated for the sake of our need to believe nature is all around us and that we are still alive in some meaningful way? Do we need forests? Of course we do. I clung to my land this week with gratitude.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Finishing and getting started

Currently writing about this ancient bridge - Pont Krac'h
It's a strange time. My exhibition is now over, although the month flew by and I was too busy to be there often or even to think much about the outcome of all that work. Certainly my texts were well-received, and perceptively so from the messages and comments I've had from very diverse places and people. I'm grateful to everyone who bought a booklet and took the time to give me feedback.
Turning my attention (at last) to the new landscape book, I finally realised the degree of concentration it is going to need and a huge investment of time. So I made the big decision to finish with Brittany Walks, after 11 years of offering a monthly (until recently twice monthly!) programme of guided walks. I'm sure it's the right thing at the right time, but it represents a great change in my working schedule, and I'll miss the many lovely people who have supported the walks, some of them since the very beginning.
I am also coming to the end of the walking for the new Finistère walking guide which will be out next spring. Of course there remains masses of work to do on the background information, maps and page lay-out, but psychologically finishing the field work feels as if the project is almost over in terms of mental (and very physical) commitment. My mind will soon be much clearer and able to focus on the landscape essays. Whether this new book will be only in French is a big decision to be made over the winter. It will rather depend on publishers in the end and whether separate editions in the UK and France is really a viable option. I almost feel that there are two different books there. This long winter will tell.