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Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Thinking about Wendell Berry

A week ago I went on an open day for a walk around Scottsdale, a property 70km south of Canberra backing on to the Murrumbidgee River and the Namadgi Natonal Park. the property has been purchased for conservation purposes by the Bush Heritage Trust.

Walking around the property with one of the Trust's ecologists learning about the complexity of restoring the productivity of the property in terms of the soil, the plants and the animals I was struck by the time horizon for ecological recovery. In some respects we might get improvement within a decade and be able o see the difference, in other respects it might take 50 years.

This is a time horizon that cuts across our cultural expectations in which everything has to happen immediately.

This sort of time horizon and respect for the land is a key element in the novels and poetry of Wendell Berry. To read his fictional account of the people and land in the community of Port William is to be reminded of the importance of time and connection to a place in terms of care and restoration of what we have ignorantly and impatiently despoiled.

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