To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
Auguries of Innocence – William Blake
I have been reading a most wonderful book called Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The writer is a First Nation American woman and a professor of botany. She tells of her journey to unite the approach she has grown up with of respect and gratitude to all living things with the rigour and analysis expected of her as a scientific botanist. The result is a profoundly knowledgeable and poetic account of her approach and of how she has worked to instil a love of nature into her students and her own daughters. One thing she explains is that when she began to reclaim her native language she discovered that when talking about plants and trees the grammar is very different. If trying to identify a flower you would not say not what is that but who is that. This simple difference conveys a completely different world view. To me it speaks of valuing all other living things on the planet as worthy of our respect and care and reconnecting humans to the natural world. We are after all not separate from nature but just one expression of it.
I was just up in Derbyshire in some recent glorious sunshine and the wildflowers were in their May glory. I was equipped with my tiny 10X magnifying glass. To look at them with this you have to stop, get right down on the ground and get really close to the plant. That in itself slows you down and makes you really appreciate what you are looking at. Then when you focus in and look through the lens a whole new extraordinary world opens up. The subtlety of colour and pattern, all the individual parts of the flower, the iridescence of many of the petals and the fine hairs and veins - none of which can be seen with the naked eye. I really recommend buying one of these if you feel curious because it is absolutely fascinating and humbling to realise that each flower has all of this incredible detail and is perfectly designed to attract its particular pollinators and spread its seed in a way that works for its location. Come up to the burial ground and try out your new purchase! There is plenty to see at the moment and we will have books and information up there on the Open Day on June 15th. I have now decided to try writing a blog from time to time featuring a particular plant or tree and it’s uses and history alongside the writing about death and grieving.