online: 29 june 2003
modified: 30 june 2003

28 june 2003 spontaneous action

19:27 Calm evening, surrounded by sloping meadow of long grass* in which groups of young people are lying or sitting... Some are leaving as the shadows lengthen... Two crows rise from the grass and fly slowly to the west while climbing only to about 3 metres - and now they are gone. A brown butterfly passes. I was feeling tired but here, in the shade and on this favourite spot by the tumulus, and writing this, I feel more energetic than I have all day. I feel I could stay here all night.

There is a tall chestnut** tree before me - it's twice the height of the surrounding trees - the height of about 10 people, say 20 metres. The top of it looks far from the earth, existing in air, whereas its lower part and roots live close to or under the earth. It can never jump or walk or lie down - these words would not be in its vocabulary were it to speak - but it can't speak... I know that these suppositions are meaningless to a tree - perhaps all thoughts are like that - inapplicable to things other than humans?...

...But as I wrote of ourselves 'as humans' I realised that the abstract language of science appears to overcome or transcend the difference between trees (and all else) and ourselves - but I doubt it. I suspect there is a residual difference that neither scientific nor philosophic nor poetic language can reveal or bridge. And besides, scientific language strips us of our presence.

It's getting cooler - I pause to put on my jacket. The picnickers by the tall chestnut put on pullovers and shoes and begin packing their bags. They stand and reach and talk in a spontaneous collective action that seems to be directed by no one - by each one adapting to a 'shared idea'. That's what I like!

Now all is packed and all 10 of them stand and talk for a few minutes before moving - and now they walk off, in pairs, I imagine towards the station, or perhaps the car park... This everyday example of spontaneous action, both natural and civilised, is surely something wonderful - and of immense value.

And now I see three crows visiting the picnic spot, just vacated. Whatever food may have been dropped is already recycled! If only our industrial actions were organised so spontaneously and so well!

Walking back myself I see many black and white feathers on the ground - perhaps a fox has killed and eaten a magpie? Another spontaneous action!

At the spot where the picnickers were there is not a single piece of litter.

*The meadows on the heath are no longer mowed during the summer - thanks to the biologists advising the heath managers. Perhaps there should also be anthropologists or mythologists advising - to avert the felling of trees and the clearing or gardening of the undergrowth?

**30th June: I walked closer to the tree and found that it is a lime.

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