Having seen the best hour’s telly a month ago when Countryfile had an hour featuring British woodlands, I have just listened to the best EVER radio programme on BBC Radio 4. It was all about the benefits of woodlands for human well-being. It would have been better still if I had been on it but there you go. If you didn’t hear it, go to i-player when it is available.
This is exactly the topic that I have been banging on about for the last 35 years and it seems to be sinking in.
Call it co-incidence or collective unconscious but this morning I got up early to write the Introduction for my new book. Here it is, hopefully along with some photos from the woods where I spend my summers feeling very good. Also a link to see a pole-lathe in action.
The rhythm of life!
I first discovered the pole-lathe in 1976 in a wonderful book entitled ‘Woodland Crafts of Britain’ by Herbert Edlin. Intrigued by the idea and wanting to work with wood but having very little money, I cobbled one together and the pole-lathe steadily crept into my life. For twenty years it was the mainstay of my career and ever since that first tentative treadle, I have struggled to put my finger on what it is that makes the pole lathe such a magical machine. Now I think I have finally nailed it!
Life is rhythm, rhythm is life.
Everything that is, was created in ‘The Big Bang’ or ‘The Seven Days of Creation’ or ‘Whatever’. I believe we can never comprehend how it all came about but here it is, and we have to live with it.
Life is ruled by one overriding law, expressed in different ways by different people:
What goes up, must come down
To each and every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction
The concept of Yin and yang
The only certainty in life is change
There ain’t no happy times without no pain – Paul Brady
And nothing exemplifies this law better than the rhythm of the pole-lathe..
- The start of the downstroke requires a huge input of effort during which very little happens. Is it really going to be worth it?
- It then picks up speed and you bring the chisel into contact with the soft, succulent wood and the long smooth shavings start to glide. This is the moment to live for.
- Then the stroke comes to an end, the action stops but all that creative energy is captured in the spring of the pole. Not death, just dormancy.
- You have to let go, relax your pressure on the treadle and leave it to the pole to bring you back for the next episode. If you don’t let go, everything grinds to a halt.
Do you recognise this rhythm?
It is the rhythm of life – the heartbeat – day and night – the seasons – sex and drugs and rock-and-roll!