Tuesday 15 March 2011

A different kind of aesthetic

I've been reading the excellent "Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England" by Ian Mortimer. It's a fascinating book, written in the style of a modern day Rough Guide or Lonely Planet travel guidebook, and full of the kind of quirky details that seem to fall between the gaps when you're doing history at school. Much less about battles, much more about what people ate, what they wore, and what they actually thought about things.

I really liked this bit:
...you realise that there is a whole different aesthetic at work here. ...there is no need for flowers in a pot to beautify a medieval house. ...beauty lies in having the necessities of life close at hand. To the family that lives here, beauty lies in the smoke issuing from the roof openings and the knowledge that there is plenty more firewood just outside the door.
Perhaps the reason this bit appealed to me is that we've finally, finally got the woodburner up and running. OK, it's slightly late in the season, but you never know, the weather could still take a turn for the worse.

I haven't got my wood supply sorted out yet - that's the next step. There's a bit in the Transition Handbook about the inherent value stored in a year's worth of wood stacked up to dry, and there is a form of beauty in that as well as utility.

I used to think of things like that as a bit scruffy, something that should be tucked away and hidden from sight, but maybe I'm learning to see things with that different kind of aesthetic.


  1. There is nothing more beautiful than a full woodshed when you have chopped and stacked (and preferably grown) the wood yourself!

    OK - I may be a bit obsesive about woodsheds ...

  2. Not at all, John. Someone asked me on Saturday how I will heat my house when I get too old to chop wood. I said that for the last 2.5 years I've been chopping about 2 years' worth per year. It will be ages yet before my garage is full.