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Up to date information on The One Course. The One Course is all about feeling good, connecting with others, learning from nature, being inspirational and taking positive action.

Spring Growth

Learning from nature Posted on Fri, March 25, 2022 17:43:54

Spring is finally here in March 2022, the bulbs we planted previously, light up the dark green corners, show their many different colours, waft their varied flowery scents on the gentle cool breeze, attracting a myriad of early buzzing bees after their own long slumber. Gosh, this descriptive prose is difficult, I’m going back to my less flowery, usual style. I really love spring when its finally getting lighter, warmer and we can get on with things outside after a winter huddled by the fire. There seems to be so much to do in spring after we emerge from our retreat and a very necessary rest. Tree planting is my particular favourite at this time of year, a replenishment after all the wood chopping and burning of the previous winter.

We planted 4 small fruit trees this week, 2 cherries, a plum and a coxes orange pippin apple, in a new area of land, cleared and landscaped to mainly facilitate better drainage, parking and turning of cars outside our little house. After 10 months deliberating about the disruption a digger would cause, we decided it was worth it to solve the problems of the previous 10 years. We got a local man with a digger in to remove all the tumbled stone from the old barn, soon to be a new workshop/studio. We also got him to dump the combined mix of earth, rocks and undergrowth in a big heap ready for leveling by hand to create the new parking plot above the drainage channel. It took one skilled man and his machine 2 hours to do what would take us about 2 months. His digger buckets can be seen in the background of the above picture, they are about the size of our small car. Ann built a new dry-stone retaining wall with some of the better stone. The start of this can be seen in the foreground. Thanks to my Irish roots, I helped flatten the new area by hand with a pick, shovel and a rake. When we stood back and looked at all our efforts we both thought it looked much tidier but very bare. Some trees and plants were needed even if it made the car parking slightly more difficult. I wanted something with spring blossom, which I love, so why not fruit trees.

Ann took charge of the lavender, rockery plants, and pots in a newly created bed to cover the drainage pipework and I tackled what I thought was the easier job of digging some small holes for the new trees. We had hoped to get them from a good old fashioned market stall in Villefranche but fell back on Aldi when the stallholders didn’t show. The trees are a little neglected but we treat them like timid rescue dogs and imagine them being re-homed with us after being previously mistreated by an uncaring corporate owner. My conscience eased, I then dig the holes on our newly compacted rock filled car park with much less ease and cart barrows of soil from elsewhere to refill the holes. Throwing some grain in the hole bottoms, a practical and spiritual gesture, the previously clingfilm wrapped roots are released to rest atop of the soon to sprout grain, surrounded by some dark well rotted compost. I feel they are happy in their new home.

Substantial stakes, of tubular aluminium, rescued on their way to the tip provide luxurious support to our new fruity friends. We feel this is far better use of these poles than holding up a weather-beaten nylon fence around a chlorine filled pool of some very good but considerably wealthier friends of ours. Just to make it clear we didn’t steal these poles. Our friends have swapped to a saltwater pool now, which is much better, remodeled to incorporate easier steps and an alarm, so hence, no need for the previous fence, or poles. They are lovely people and always give me first refusal on things they may considering releasing to the local landfill and recycling centre. Sadly, as Ann knows, I’m a dreadful hoarder. In one sense I know the poles will ultimately be recycled after being sorted and smelted but to me it seems simpler to reuse such things closer to home if I can, than send them all the way to China. So, I am slowly finding different uses for 38 black painted poles at our place. Two of them went to another friend to make a water-polo net over another pool. We don’t have a pool but have many friends who do, even some with a natural swimming pond and its perfect to have friends like these especially in Summer.

The trees are now in and well watered, but there’s still an annoying bare patch, so another tree another day, perhaps, this year or next. The good thing about trees is that we can really never,ever plant enough. I think, globally we humans chop down about 2 fully grown trees every year for each person on the planet, about 14 billion beautiful, majestic, enormous pairs of green lungs, which were until that point, helping us and our grandchildren breathe. So my simplistic reasoning is I should plant at least 2 trees every year, just to do my bit, more if space and funds allow. There was a time Ann and I planted many more each year on a wet, windswept northern moor back in the UK but we then had 12 acres to fill. At least here the planting conditions are more favourable to us older humans if sometimes a little dry for the younger saplings. More trees, this is the sort of growth we want.

Spring, I really do love it, so much potential being shown by everything in nature. At this moment within the global non-natural systems there seems somewhat less environmental potential in spring 2022, although politically we are told things are looking up, now the pandemic is over. Growth, growth, growth, maybe of the wrong sort, the stockmarket is looking good. A global system that works mainly in favour of economic outputs can’t seem to ever afford a season of retreat like winter so the system requires permanent spring or preferably a never ending summer. Winter season and even Autumn, like an impossible debt we owe, is put off well into the future while we try to keep the economic Summer sun shining all the time. More economic growth will sort it out, we humans say, even if this means another war against the latest tyrant we have found to blame. Maybe economic growth, including military spending, really does raise all the boats, large and small. I tearfully disagree as poor migrants drown and the wealthy nations continue to fight over oil, gas and money.

Perhaps in this current economic system of ours, which we humans created, we could do with a voluntary autumn and a winter once in a while, a time for retreat and reflection for leaves to fall and maybe even some snow. Maybe winter is underrated and spring overrated. Perhaps it is a moment to stop this endless quest for growth for a while, to pause and think about how nature looks after itself and how it really looks after us. Can we, together with nature, create this new system, perhaps we can try, this year, or perhaps next?

Even the plants are listening!

Learning from nature Posted on Wed, March 29, 2017 14:09:27

The Plants are listening, perhaps they have feelings too!

With all this talk in the media about, plants, wire tapping, surveillance and police infiltration of environmental groups, I thought I should post something about who or what is really listening to us, all the time. Just over 50 years ago a CIA lie detector specialist called Baxter did some research on plants. He wired up the leaf of a plant to a lie detector and he simply thought about setting fire to one of its leaves. The plant instantly responded the moment he thought about setting fire to the leaf, and continued to register until he put the matches away. It’s not that I believe that plants really have feelings but I think perhaps they respond to our moods.

Baxter continued to experiment with plants and later human cells, and produced some very interesting information.

One of his later experiments involved monitoring the moods of people over time in response to external stimulus. Baxter checked for a correlated response in real time with some of their previously removed white blood cells. It seemed the cells in the lab could detect any severe mood changes of the person over time, even at a considerable distance. I think we can only speculate what is going on here and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this too. My plants may also be interested.

So, what do I think is happening? Perhaps the whole universe is listening. Everything is connected and always has been connected since the birth of our solar system or perhaps even before that. We are all made of the same stuff, stardust, atoms, etc. Once something is connected it remains connected or entangled at some fundamental level. The matter changes into a different form but somehow remains connected. I think, it is this connection or one-ness which we are sensitive to. All other things are sensitive to this connection too. Perhaps the degree of sensitivity depends on the level of consciousness of the thing or person. Well that’s my thoughts, what about you, Hyacinth!

Zen Hen

Learning from nature Posted on Fri, April 29, 2016 17:22:51

Here is our hen, recently named ‘Zen’ after almost a year of being called ‘Hen’. I have just spent the entire morning with her as she helped me to ‘dig’ and ‘weed’ the garden. She is the last survivor of a long line of hens bred by our elderly neighbour who died 2 years ago. We thought she would be lonely so this spring we got three new hens to keep her company but she still seems to prefer to spend time around humans. I suppose moving three ‘teenage’ hens in to share her home was a bit cruel!

We can always learn things from spending time around nature and hens are no exception. They can apparently recognise more than 100 faces. Each hen has its own unique personality and they have 30 different sounds that they use to communicate with each other. They are of course very much ‘in the present moment’ as animals tend to be – not having our ability to think about events in the past and worry about what might happen in the future! As I write this she is lying in a hollow in the warm soil that she has carefully crafted – where I have just planted some potatoes. I think she is probably sitting on one – probably she thinks its an egg!

Maybe today’s ‘Zen hen lesson’ is to sit in the sun while its shining – especially when you’ve been busy scratching about all morning! Nature always has times of rest and everything still seems to get done!

Mushrooms make it rain!

Learning from nature Posted on Sat, February 27, 2016 16:06:32

I love eating mushrooms and living here in France we don’t have to go far to find some lovely specimens! We are careful which ones we eat and stick to the 3 or 4 varieties that we feel 100% confident of identifying. Our elderly neighbours are very knowledgeable and taught us the best places to look and which ones to avoid eating.

There is still a great deal to be discovered about mushrooms and what they are capable of. Recently it has been found that the spores released by mushrooms cause rain to fall. In this way mushrooms are helping to promote their own survival by creating the ideal conditions for their growth. Amazing!

Water crystals

Learning from nature Posted on Sat, January 23, 2016 12:53:59

I find this fascinating. A few years ago I read a book by Mr Emoto about the different types of crystals formed by freezing water from different locations. He took pictures of the crystals formed by clean river water, lakes and polluted water and found they formed very different shapes. The polluted water crystals looked distorted compared to the clean river water. He then discovered that the water formed different shaped crystals according to the music or words that were played ‘to it’. See what you think?

If it really is the case that water forms different crystals according to the environment/sounds surrounding it then this may have big implications for the things we surround ourselves with – and the things we tell ourselves – since we contain around 70% water in our own bodies.




Learning from nature Posted on Thu, January 21, 2016 11:49:51

First snow

Yesterday we had our first snow of 2016 here in Aveyron.

It made me think about the fact that no two snowflakes are the same. Although snowflakes all have a hexagonal shape, they vary in their geometry and molecular structure according to the variations in temperature and humidity through which they fall.