Sherri Mitchell quote


I can remember back in the 1990s, thinking about humanity reaching a crossroad, and one way would mean creating a whole new way of life, the other would mean ‘business as usual’ and eventual disaster. It would be easy now to believe that the wrong choice was made nearly twenty years ago, and that may be the case, that most of humanity switched off the alarm clock, turned themselves over and went back to sleep. But recently I have been reading and listening to several indigenous writers and speakers, and they are hopeful.

Sherri Mitchell, for instance, writes of that crossroad, where we can “travel together into a higher way of being or plummet back into the darkness”. She describes it as a place of initiation, where “We are on the precipice of an evolutionary leap”. So I conclude that there will be another chance, but it will be hard. Twenty years ago it could have been much easier, but we missed that one.

I think it will mean leaving the road altogether and, figuratively speaking, finding our way through swamps, over mountains and across deserts, before we are able to get ourselves back on track. I am getting on towards seventy now, so it’s very unlikely that I shall make it myself; though I may be one of those who shout out stop, when enough people are ready at last to listen, and who point out the difficult way across wide and dangerous country.

Thinking of rewilding the river, it could have been much easier but it may be forced upon us now.

I have an image of people arriving at Glastonbury Tor. The relief is overwhelming but the temperature is rising, as are the waters. The biggest thunderstorm ever experienced in Somerset has overtopped the flood prevention dam above Bruton. The dam has collapsed and the centre of Bruton has filled with water in just a matter of minutes. A few have escaped in canoes that they’ve found.

The deluge has proceeded downstream, widening and taking everything with it. The river has burst its banks and the fields around are deeply under water. From the slopes of the Tor we can see the people in canoes; one has capsized, another spins round in circles as the waters continue not west towards Highbridge but, taking the naturally lower route northwards, sweep around the end of Wearyall Hill and past Bride’s Mound. The canoists somehow steady themselves though they have no choice but to ride out the flood as best as they can manage.

I am in one of the canoes now … the river flowing with full power around Glastonbury and north towards the Axe valley. Beyond Godney we reach the top of the rapids that take us down into Perry Lake. The lake has long been forgotten, but now it’s returned with sudden and overwhelming vigour. We line ourselves up with the V-shape that can be seen on the surface of the water and speeding, wet and shining, we go into the lake and head towards the opposite bank, slowing sufficiently to steer ourselves back out into the current … as the lake becomes wider and takes us through the Panborough-Bleadney gap and then, in a growing crescendo, we join the river Axe and continue towards the sea …

Thanks for reading. This is my last article for the time being. Please get in touch if you’d like to ask questions or continue the conversation.