Forest Thoughts


After the rain
Mist rising
Forest thoughts.

This is the story of the forested hills of La Garrotxa and what they say to the world.

These hills have been worked for centuries. Even here, on the high ridges, low terracing walls designed to slow the passage of rain are still visible in the dense forest which has grown up over this once rough grazing.

It has only been 50 years, but there is a forest here now which seems timeless.

From the sharp backbone of the ridge that was never cut, the acorns of the small drought twisted evergreen oaks have fallen, rolled and scattered down the hillsides to quickly take root where they came to rest and create a dense shade from which have sprouted other trees such as poplar, whose seed blows in on late spring thermals, while other trees have risen out of the wet, cool depths of the gorges and valleys; maples, hawthorn and even, eventually beeches.

Walking through these forests now is to be blessed by their cool, leafy shade year round, which buffers the extremes of summer heat and winter cold. And, of course, those very cool leaves condense the sea breeze which drips on to the deep leaf mould beneath and encourage the rain to fall as the clouds touch the forested peaks.

This water harvesting and storage service takes no effort or money to set up nor run, yet year by year becomes ever more efficient.

It is the effortless miracle of nature doing what nature does. It is perhaps necessary to pause a moment to understand just how these hills have become so vital to counter the effects of climate change.

These effortless forests have arisen simply because human beings have stopped trying to make pastures, fields and gardens of land that was never suited to such practices.

The gain is not just in that these hills, which stretch across thousands upon thousands of hectares, have forests regulating the climate, replenishing the aquifers and reservoirs to water the droughty, coastal, urban strip, but that the human energy that once blocked this vast engine can now be turned to other activities.

There is in the example of these hills a lesson for us all, to stop trying to improve the natural world and give over our energies instead to improving the human realm.

For there is in all of us the same effortless capability yet to be fulfilled, revealed in the genius of these forests.

Human action across centuries has wrought great devastation, this is something which we are all having to come to terms with now. Agriculture, while having been a blessing has also been a bane.

We need to see the devastation we have caused and where forests can no longer grow and flourish, we must undertake to bring back the seeds.

This is a call then to those people who can see the devastation, a call to those who now recognise that their great potential is to be nature’s seed carriers and bring back the seeds so that the earth can flourish once more.

There is no soil that is dead, not even a desert. The evidence of our eyes reveals that after rain whole deserts bloom! And that nature needs nothing more than a stock of seeds and then to be left alone to produce great forests.

So let human beings fulfil themselves as they will. Let the scientists explore, the engineers build, business trade, let each one flourish as they will, but let there also be people who take seed back to the earth and then protect these seeds from interference, so they may soon grow into forests and the forests grow rain.

Let those of goodwill come together, those who gift their land to regeneration, those who gift their energy to seeding this land, so that the great gift of life can return where it has been lost, to release the great potential of every living being so that it may fulfil itself, effortlessly.

Seedball the world.


About Jamie Nicol

Living in the forested hills of Catalonia, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Zen teacher, recovering philosopher, small-scale natural farmer. Writing just what comes.
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