Regular readers will know that I'm keen on nature and that my love for trees in particular and other wildlife filters through to my work. I've also been following the exploits of guerilla gardeners for a couple of years. (It is funny to me how guerillas, once associated with warfare and fighting, have been reworked into just slightly edgy but totally nice artists, knitters or gardeners) Even though I have absolutely no gardening skills whatsoever, or maybe because of it, the idea of growing plants, especially food crops in random areas in the urban environment, on unused grass verges or patches of wasteland really appeals to me. And then, I discovered this book, by accident, as I was looking for a gift for a friend. It sort of said everything.
The Man Who Planted Trees, Jean Giono (The Harvill Press)
The blurb on the back cover explains, "Jean Giono's beautiful allegorical tale is legendary. Written in the 1950's, its message was ahead of its time, inspiring readers to rediscover the harmonies of the countryside and prevent its wilful destruction." It is the story of a solitary shepherd who spends his life planting acorns, and grows a forest. It is thirty pages of loveliness. The shepherd changes his whole environment and that of the surrounding communities. "The ruins had been tidied up, crumbling walls knocked down, and five old houses rebuilt. The hamlet now had twenty-eight inhabitants, including four young couples. The new houses were freshly roughcast and surrounded by kitchen gardens where rows of both vegetables and flowers grew: cabbages mingled with rose bushes, leeks with snapdragons, celery with anemones. It had become a place where one would wish to live." I would live there in a second. And I really want some of that celery. And the the leeks. I'm actually longing for them.