Saturday 15 August 2009

This Low Carbon Life

Monday Oats From Garboldisham

Thinking about starting a blog today. I wanted to keep a log of everything that happens in this year of TN2, when a bunch of us decided to cut our carbon footprint by half. I wanted to write about the people I’m embarking on this journey with and the small surprising things that happen as we exchange news of our lives. At the last meeting we listed what small steps we had already made and Mark said: every morning he ate porridge made from oats from Garboldisham which is a mill just outside Diss. Later he got all the bills out over the living room floor and made the astounding discovery that our oil bill has decreased by 75% from 2003. What did we do in those blissful days before we knew about peak oil and the economic downturn? Were we eating the stuff?

Actually we were looking at plants. Wild plants, food plants, medicine plants. One thing I learned from looking at plants and plant medicine all those years. It’s the small changes that really affect the body and mind. So long as you pay attention to them.

Josiah once told me oats are the food of the future because they are native, hardy, don’t need pesticides and are very nutritious. Oats are a good medicine too. Excellent for calming you down, cutting anxiety so you see clearly what lies ahead.

It’s August and I’ve decided to take things easy myself! I’m having a zero-carbon holiday and have just put my tent up in the garden under the greengage tree. At night I lie in the dark listening to the seawind flapping in the rigging. It reminds me of being on a boat. The moon rises red from above the black trees, Jupiter shines like a beacon between the clouds. On the distance there are huge ships casting an ominous orange glare over the dark ocean. They’ve been there for months. Must be at least nineteen of them. Must find out what they are.

Wednesday Swimming in the Sea

Found out what those ships were talking to an ex-oil tanker/rig worker outside the Sailor’s Reading Rooms in Southwold. He said they were empty oil tankers and they were anchored there because it was cheaper than being in harbour. Then Josiah wrote in the log that actually the ships were not empty at all: Sole Bay is one of tthe only places in the world where you can legally (sic) transfer oil ship-to-ship and many of them were just waiting for the oil prices to rise. I don’t know which is more of an omen, full oil tankers or empty oil tankers on the horizon. I’m going swimming most days at the moment. It’s calm and the town beach is full of holiday makers. It’s odd but when you are in the sea with everyone, riding the waves like seals, sleek heads bobbing, you feel at home with your kind in a way that is quite difficult when you’re on dry land.

One week later Andy came down with his nephews and put a mighty-sized three man tent in the garden. Here I am with Ollie about to embark on a swimming-in-the-rough-sea lesson. First rule of resilience: enter the waves boldly, come what may!

Christine wrote about strip washing today in the TN2 log. Funny, when you are living in a tent you don’t feel like washing. You’ re not so prissy. You can pee in the compost, walk barefoot in the dew, eat plums without washing them, let the salt stay in your hair. You feel closer to things and yourself. Went down to the wood today and saw all the late summer flowers – skullcap, fleabane, angelica. On my way back I filled my pockets with yellow plums and hazelnuts and picked a punnet of wild cherries. It seems as if everyone is mapping the fruit trees of the neighbourhood at the moment in England – unwanted apples and pears in the back yards of Hackney, Sheffield and Beccles. We’re learning the art of gleaning, paying attention to the small things. When you’re focussed on the small things that’s when the beauty of life strikes you – the surprising sharpness of wild raspberries on your tongue.

What’s the pay-off? you might ask as we all face this low-carbon future without being able to escape in aeroplanes, without tropical fruit, without hot power showers. I’m discovering it this week: living on the earth is the pay-off. Swimming in the sea and feeling its energy and light enter your bones, feeling at home with your fellows as you run down the beach resiliently, come what may.