Rebecca Solnit’s The Book of Migrations: Some Passages in Ireland devotes much of a chapter to the mediaeval Irish tale Buile Suibhne (The Frenzy of Sweeney), which tells of a king afflicted with the behaviour of a bird. Two explanations are offered: either he was driven mad by the horrors of battle, or cursed by a Christian holy man whom he had offended. “His flight is an odd business”, writes Solnit. “Sometimes he skims along the earth, sometimes he makes prodigious leaps, sometimes he can rise up out of the trees, often he falls.” Not-quite-bird yet no-longer-man, Sweeney takes to the edges and wilds of exile, belonging nowhere but in the long shadows cast by 20th century literature – damned by Eliot, hymned by Joyce, translated and tempered by both Flann O’Brien and Seamus Heaney – until he is speared through the chest as prophesied, dies in a church doorway and is promised the ambivalent redemption of being sent to heaven. Continue reading “Losing, Choosing – a guest post from cricket7642”
Earlier this month I took an introductory permaculture course. One of the core habits of permaculture is observing and learning from nature, so our group spent time out of doors, in the enclosed garden of the course venue, enjoying the tentative spring sunshine and discovering what we could learn by observing the resident plane tree and the uneven expanse of lawn beneath its branches.
Our teacher picked up a handful of dead plane leaves and pieces of shed bark, to demonstrate resilient thriving in ecosystems, where each element has multiple functions, and each function is supported by multiple elements. Dead leaves and bark provide food for insects and bacteria, act as mulch, and eventually build new soil for the tree and other organisms to keep growing in. Continue reading “Meeting Your Edge”