Nourishing hope

It’s very wet out there, and has been basically since November. My thoughts are with those who live near water. Our burn* is luckily away from and below us. It’s ever changing gushing impacts the sounds around us and may stop us crossing the ford to get to Bankfoot the back way, but luckily that is so far the only distraction. The ever spouting spring in what was going to be our car park and the sitting water in every field has more of an immediate impact. Wellies are certainly the only possible footwear!

So what to do? Well time really for a good book or two. I couldn’t decide whether to write this on my other blog Ecobabbles or here as the issues are common to both but we’ll stick here I think.

Living in Scotland has meant that in all three places we have lived I have had access to great libraries. So much so that it is rare for me to buy a book anymore – fiction and non-fiction, even including cookbooks! However two I have recently borrowed may well have to become permanent additions to the house as the ideas are reference material.

Have you ever thought about the word ‘energy’? What it really means? The thing energy is something I struggle with – finding that happy medium. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as

Force, vigour; active operation, individual powers in use; latent ability.

Rebecca Laughton uses this as the basis of her book ‘Surviving and thriving on the land’. It’s an inspiring and realistic look at why people succeed and fail on small holdings. Many of the tenets hold true though to any work you do where all sorts of different types of energy are needed over a long period of time i.e. life!

The front cover hides rather than embellishes the content, but otherwise it is far handier and enlightening than many of the other ‘bibles’ I have bought and borrowed over the years on sustainability, small holdings, self-sufficiency etc. Perhaps as an indicator of Perthshire library members there are two copies of this book available!

I also found “The Power Of Sustainable Thinking”. The author Bob Doppelt is someone I would quite like to meet, perhaps even have as a guest at my ‘ideal dinner party’**.  His style has that entertaining combination of self effacing humour and interest in beahvioural science. Just telling ourselves to change isn’t going to work – the annual Resolution glut proves that. To produce the large societal changes that so many in Paris agreed we need, we can’t just assume it will happen, at least not in a democratic society. I talked about this a bit in my post on changing shower habits and again on Christmas gifts and Mr Doppelt’s rhetoric is much sharper and importantly full of hope. Change theory is complex and interesting stuff!

A brief history of thyme

Yesterday I discovered Miranda Seymour’s “A Brief History of Thyme” – a funny and insighful look in to the history and uses of 49 herbs (some of which are more weed than herb). She has found that Angelica can be used to “promote an aversion to alchohol” (apt considering the changing behaviours stuff above) and Burdock has so many uses I’m going to have to change my attitude to it.

Our herb patch is very small at the moment but this is giving me a good start to planning the supersized version.


Our summer herb harvest


*burn – Scottish and Northern English  term for little river. According to Wikipedia (which is always right ha ha) it can refer to any size watercourse from a large stream to a small river. The English linguistic equivalent is ‘bourne’. The Scots Gaelic ‘bùrn’ means fresh water.

**Billy has just told me his guests would be Tim Peake, the man who invented Lego, two school friends, his cousins and his grandparents. I wonder what herbs we might add?

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