Tag Archives: habitat

The joy of dead trees

One of the problems with humans is that we like to ‘manage’ trees, parks and woodland by taking the dead trees out. This is fair enough if they’re dead, upright and at risk of falling onto a path at no notice. Otherwise, it makes very little sense. Wherever possible we should leave dead trees where they are.

A dead tree is an amazing habitat. All kinds of insets will make homes beneath the bark. Birds will feed on those insects, and also use holes in the tree for nest sites. Small mammals, bats, slow worms and lizards can also find homes amidst the decaying wood. Mosses, fungus and lichens can all make their homes here, too.

It is all too easy to see death as untidy, or unpleasant. However, a dead tree remains a great source of beauty as it goes through the decay process. Out of its death, comes life.

In pine woods, it is usually the dead trees that let the light in. You may have miles of dense trees (usually a plantation) with nothing but old needles underneath, and then come to a place where there is light, intense green plant life, ferns, mosses, saplings – invariably because a tree has died here and let in a possibility.

The death of a tree is very much part of the life cycle of a tree. It is a good thing to witness. It gives us stories about longevity and life after death that are a lot more sustainable.

 

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Find out more about ancient woodland here – http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/about-us/ancient-woodland-restoration/ancient-woodland/what-is-ancient-woodland/


Bare breasts, bare feet

As those of you who have been with me for a while will know, I have an exploration underway into having unfettered breasts. I’m ample enough up top to have spent the last twenty years strapped up, so building up the capability to go unstrapped is taking time.

At Druid Camp this year I had chance to play with a few possibilities in a safe space. I spent the week mostly barefoot, sometimes with a bra, sometimes with a bikini top that offered far less support, sometimes loose under whatever top I had on. As I had suspisioned, being bare foot on grass makes a lot of odds. Most of us walk differently with no shoes on, tending to drop pace and place bare feet more gently. This reduces impact and means there is less swing generated further up.

Soft earth and grass doesn’t impact as much when you walk on it – I’ve done plenty of barefoot walking on tarmac and the difference is huge. The jarring impact of putting feet onto a hard surface jolts the free-range breast about rather a lot, making walking uncomfortable. It’s also hard on your feet. Softer surfaces make bare foot walking more viable, and reduce impact on the breasts. I find I can jog short distances barefoot on grass with little or no breast support. Neither feet nor chest could bear that on a hard, urban surface.

The moral of the research at this stage seem to be, if you want to be in a natural state, you need to be in a natural state. The more artificial your habitat is, the more you will suffer if you don’t protect breasts and feet from the consequences.

If you’re wondering about all the sticks and stones inherent in natural places… if you are barefoot you learn to pick your way carefully, and you don’t end up with the same rhythms. On rough terrain, you walk differently. With tarmac and concrete we can march vigorously over many miles, battering that tempo into our bodies. It’s worth remembering that the Roman roads were built precisely so they could march armies about quickly. Roads, tarmac and cement come from our desire to be places faster than our bodies are designed for. Modify your habitat and you have to modify your body to cope, hence shoes become more important, and you can’t run without a bra once you have shoes and a hard surface.

I’ve gone over to softer bras with no metal underwiring, and to floating about unfettered where I can. But, depending on my feet for transport, and having no choice about the surfaces which get me where I need to go, I’ve got to have boots to deal with the impact of the surface, and I’ve got to have chest support to deal with the impact of the boots on that surface. The more you can match your shoes to the needs of your breasts, the better this is going to work, though.


Natural Habitat

Natural Habitat

Any conversation about preserving wild creatures or plants inevitably includes thoughts about habitat. Nothing exists in isolation, and if the ecosystem, the landscape and the relationships are not preserved, the ‘special’ creature of interest will not thrive. Nothing thrives.

Somehow in the midst of this, we’ve taken to thinking of habitat as something other. Somewhere else. Where the birds and creatures live. We forget that we too are creatures. We are not separate from the ecosystems.

We’ve been creating our own habitats for so long, that the idea of a natural habitat for humans, at first glance, seems weird, if not irrelevant. By our very natures, we do not have natural habitats, right? Wrong. All the things that harm creatures, harm us because we are creatures too. Pollution, excess of noise, too much light at night, loss of green spaces, loss of freedom. We do not thrive in depressing, grimy, polluted places. Mental and physical health are improved by time outside, time with trees.

We’re so used to our nests and caves that we don’t think enough about the habitat we need for human wellbeing. It has open water in it. So many people love streams, rivers, canals and the sea. We gravitate towards lakes. We need water that we can walk or sit beside. We need grass to sit upon and trees to sit under. We depend on the land for food, even if most of us don’t see that on a daily basis.

If we created our urban spaces with an eye not for immediate profit and commercial intent, but to make good habitats for humans, life would be so different. I’ve seen spaces that made me feel it could be done – the beautiful, vibrant space that is The Custard Factory in Birmingham, or the area there around Gas Street Basin. Public spaces, people, trees, buildings, no two things identical.

We shouldn’t be talking about preserving the habitats of this or that creature, as though we are doing them a favour. This is our habitat too. Even if we can’t find the empathy to care about anything else, we ought to care enough about ourselves to maintain spaces we can thrive in, rather than places that engender depression, starve our souls, and make our bodies ill.