The land and the landscape

I know, it looks great from up here.

It has been a quiet autumn, and a fairly quiet start of the year. Mostly because I have been parked in one spot, and spent my time on alterations and repairs, but also on trying to get to know the landscape I’m in. For me, this rolling farmland in the southern parts of France is quite different from where I grew up and also from most places that I lived for any longer periods of time. To get acquainted with a new type of land, the weather, soil, animals and plants has been an interesting time.

One thing that differs greatly from both colder climates and urban life, is how much faster the cycle of life and death is in the warmer and more humid climate. It’s good to see that so little goes to waste, that what dies gets picked up again in the cycle. It has had an impact on my understanding of ‘waste’ also. While I for some time had the notion that ‘waste’ is what the flora and fauna of a place can’t make use of to grow, I see it more clearly and on a day to day basis here.

On the downside, the maintenance of the house also requires more attention. Nothing can be left for very long before something else moves in, or before the mold starts to appear. It might seem like a placid sort of place, but in a way it’s even more hectic than any city I’ve lived in in terms of constant movement and the need to pay attention.

The difference between land and landscape is also increasingly clear. The landscape is farmland, the land, is a forest. I use, of course, the term land here to describe the formation of the rocks and earth and the general climate, and the term landscape to describe how humans use it. The formation of the land is soft, gently sloping acidic soil. It rains a great deal here, and there is a river running down in the valley that defines the area. Trees wants to grow here, particularly chestnut and oak. And it only takes a few weeks for the first saplings to start covering the ground if left alone.

It may seem obvious, the impact humans have had in forming their habitat for the last millenniums. But it’s always different to literary see things happening before your eyes than to read of them. And so many places have been altered to such a degree that you can’t even see what they were meant to be. It’s a pretty well known how humans alter their surroundings to suit them. Fortunately, the belief that this is both necessary and good is dwindling.

There is little doubt that the land would be healthier if left alone. Most of the farms have cows as their main operation. And while it should seem obvious that large amounts of huge, hoofed animals is not what you want on soft, wet land, it’s easy to think so if you only look at the surface, the open meadows, the apparently friendly surrounding. But the sheer amount of mud, the insects, the increasingly either scorched or drenched earth practically screams for more trees with deep roots, and less plondering flatfeet.

It was much more obvious, when I stayed in betonbois where the ground was all covered in giant hogweed, that the land pretty much said ‘sod off, I’m healing’. Here, it takes more time to discover that the kind looking land really isn’t very fond of visitors at all. The more ground I cover, the more I travel and the slower I move, the more explicit it becomes that humans really need to take several steps back and look at where they really are instead of striving so hard to push a fantasy onto their surroundings. And tomorrow, I’ll be on the road again.


Symphony of destruction

To create, one must destroy. This also is true for furniture.

Throwback to me in a former dwelling in 2014, not sure why it suddenly came to mind. Anyway, on with the post…

I have, after a year of living in my house, found that I’m quite fond of having my afternoon nap on the sofa. While it’s a lovely sofa, it’s also just not quite long enough to sleep on comfortably. Originally, the length was determined by the proximity to the fireplace and a fear that a longer sofa would be a fire hazard. However, the heat from the fireplace is distributed differently than I expected, and I can safely move a step closer to the flames.

As I said, it’s a lovely sofa and I want to keep it, I only want to change it a bit. But I’ll need to take it apart first, and this is frightening. The good thing is that since I made the sofa myself, I know how it’s put together and I know that the different pieces are not merged so closely that they can’t be made into something new.

Taking something apart is just as much, if not more work than putting it together. At least if you want to be able to use the pieces again. It would have been much simpler just to tear the armrest off. Much, much simpler. Let me demonstrate with a series of pictures:

The rebuilding of one of my favorite parts of my house is only possible because the pieces are intact. I could, of course, have destroyed the former ones, gone out and bought new material and remade the whole thing but that would be just plain stupid. The point here is that destruction is not evil, it’s a needed part of life. Nothing static is alive.

From this perspective, it could be presumed that the current mass ecocide is not a great crisis in the greater picture, that perhaps this is just another turn of the wheel.

But there is a great difference between de-assembling and re-assembling building blocks and just trampling down everything like some great big hulking thing. Or worse, constructing things that are so melted down they cannot be taken apart and turned into something different.

And this is why the human destruction of the planet is a crisis. It’s not mere destruction, but a meltdown of the very building blocks. This is evidently clear in nuclear reactors or the invention of plastic, which I have ranted about before and which I elaborate on and link to ideas of immortality in modern interpretations of Norse religion in a closer look at Loke’s contribution to the death of Balder.

It can also be seen in the way they keep removing matter from the cycle of life, primarily their own bodies. When dead, humans destroy their bodies by pumping them full of poison or burning them and enclosing them in stone and in lead, or in more plastic. And then they poison everything that tries to make use of this much needed matter, the fungi and earthworm and scavenger. It may not seem as much, but is says a lot about how humans think of themselves, as the point and end of all things, as something on top of a pyramid, as the apex of creation. With this mindset, there will soon not be any more creation.

Humans aren’t just destroying, they’re depleting. And they’re doing it in the name of the good and just as well as greed. It is time to step into the circle once more and see the world around you not as something to conquer or consume, not even to protect, but as your next self.

Right, now I will go have a nap on my sofa. And then I will start to take apart my roof.


We need to talk about water, again

I have posted bits about water before, about the relation to rain, about the way and the road, but there is also the everyday need for and constant search for water.

and we’re searching…


Recently, social media has been picking up an article from last summer from the guardian about plastic bottles.

The article and the response circles around the need to recycle the bottles, or call to companies to use recycled plastic in their bottles. The reporter also blames the want for a ‘western lifestyle’ for the bottled water consumption in countries like China.  This is both arrogant and helps hide the real problem.

The real problem is that practically all fresh water sources are being held hostage by governments or companies. When outside the system, you see this clearly, but seldom have a voice to point it out.

To get access to water, you need to buy your way into the system, one way or the other.  You need a house, or similar, either hooked up to a pipe system, or with large enough tanks to find and store water yourself. This water you either need to buy, indirectly by being at a caravan site or boat dock, or clean and filter yourself, something that also requires time, space and money. Or, of course, steal and risk being pushed even further away from the government-stolen necessities.

For now, I have the option of checking in to campsites now and then and fill the water tanks with safe, clean water, but not all do. Also, not all have a house or a car or anywhere to store water for longer periods of time.  Some gas stations will let you fill your tanks, but you need to get to them somehow. And means to transport the water. And water is bloody heavy.


When poor and stuck in urban life, as a lot of people are, bottle water, expensive, polluting, and often not particularly good, is your only choice. Restaurants will leave bowls of water out for dogs, but not for poor people. Finding fresh water in a city can be a desperate search, and while food can be foraged in dumpsters, clean water can’t.

The fact that it has even gotten to this is the real tragedy and the real problem. And it won’t go away even if every single plastic bottle is recycled and reused. They should not exist in the first place.