1 January 2002 ...we are nature as we are its artists, its extensions

14:23: Sitting beneath the oak tree in the little valley of birches.

Today there are a hundred people, perhaps two hundred, visible from this spot. If there are thirty such spots then there are several thousands on the heath today... Usually I see fewer than fifty people, sometimes fewer than ten, in one or two hours walking.

Someone is setting off fireworks in the bright sunlight - two rockets so far but I saw only smoke, not star bursts, in the cloudless sky.

Is our presence an improvement, I ask, remembering the last words I wrote in 2001: 'we are nature as we are its artists, its extensions'?

'It depends what we do, and how we perceive' says a new voice that is perhaps preparing to speak (or to dictate?) what I will write in 2002...

I pause to listen to the world... UNusually, I hear sounds of adult voices in loud conversation and children's cries and shrieks - as if in a playground...

And when I look up from this little screen I see a designed landscape full of moving people - many more than it was intended for - and no Lord and Lady in command. Our task now is to make 'being numerous' an improvement! That's it, the next aim beyond 'sustainability' and 'protecting the environment' - two faulted and inadequate aims, to my mind (I feel that they both divide 'nature' or 'environment' from 'people'; impose dualism where unity and connectiveness are essential).

Cold hands. Time to put on my gloves and go for tea.

...but on the way there I paused to wipe mud from my shoes (I'd stepped in a little swamp that was still unfrozen though nearly all of the heath ground was frozen quite hard). While I wiped my right foot on a tuft of grass the doubled weight on my left foot caused it to sink suddenly into another bit of swampy ground... and when I lifted my left leg the shoe came off and filled with red muddy water... as I struggled to rescue the wet shoe and to empty it and put it back on while still standing on one leg in a semi-swamp, I found myself laughing out loud at this predicament.

And now, as I write of it in a warm room with dried shoes, I can't help wondering what sort of an omen this is for the new year? Do I see all my previous writings as steps in a partly frozen swamp - and my latest book as sinking if I put too much weight on it?... but this is nonsense, I hope.

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(c) 2002 john chris jones

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