Written by Alan Hancock
Last year, I had the sudden urge to start growing things. I’m not entirely sure where it came from; perhaps within all of us there’s a dormant gardener just waiting to emerge unexpectedly.
Maybe I was going through a phase of wishing to connect to my own base humanity; to see if, on some level, I could be entirely self sufficient and to see if I could make it as a neanderthal from the comfort of my sofa. I’d been watching a lot of Bear Grylls and, whilst there’s a huge gulf between squeezing moisture out of elephant dung and tending to a crop of strawberries, we all have to start somewhere.
What came as a surprise to me was the emotional connection I felt. I had no idea I’d begin to look upon these plants like pets. The joy of the first seeds I’d sown myself, sprouting out from the soil, to the panic upon coming home from work to discover a large branch of my tomato plant had snapped in heavy wind and rain. I spent over an hour out there fashioning a makeshift splint and more hours worrying that it’d end up dying.
It’s furthered my belief that we are all inherently green. We all share an organic, biological connection to the natural world because as organic, biological animals, it wouldn’t make sense for us not to feel something when walking beneath the canopy of a forest or across a warm, sandy beach.
Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some incredible cities and see some amazing human achievements but none of those landmarks or skylines compare to the sense of awe inspired by the natural wonders of this world some of which, I believe, are beyond our comprehension. We didn’t make them, they were crafted by natural forces beyond our control. Monument Valley in the United States is a place rich in natural beauty and inside its boundaries is something that generated within me an innate understanding of our human roots. Our environment is fragile as we are fragile but it is also resilient as we are resilient.
We don’t have to go as far as that to connect with our environment. Dartmoor is a stones throw away, a little further up is Exmoor and you don’t have to travel long to reach the sea at either end. We should continue to cherish and protect these spaces because, in my view, they offer us the most immediate and refreshing connections to our humanity than anything else.
My strawberries are coming along nicely this year too.
Photo credit: Simon Blackley