“What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives?”
Since 2020, Forster Country has, perhaps like never before in the history of Stevenage, become so important to our lives.
The pandemic, with all its uncertainties, highlighted the healing qualities of nature. Octavia Hill, one of the founding members of the National Trust, summed it up best when she said, “We all want quiet. We all want beauty … we all need space. Unless we have it, we cannot reach that sense of quiet in which whispers of better things come to us gently”
“The present flowed by them like a stream. The tree rustled. It had made music before they were born, and would continue after their deaths, but its song was of the moment.”
I have a profound love of trees which began as a child when I would climb the horse chestnut trees in The Avenue to relieve them of their conkers. Forster Country has been my playground for 45 years and I still climb an ancient oak tree there. I have often wondered if this is the oak tree that gave Stevenage its Saxon name ‘Stithen-ac’–‘Place of the strong oak?’
“They had nothing in common but the English language.”
This quote makes me ‘smace’–smile and grimace at the same time–well if Shakespeare could make up words, I don’t see why I can’t? I smile because Forster’s use of humour here expertly evokes the great gulf that can exist between two people that even language cannot bridge. I grimace because, for me, it also encapsulates the gulf between those who wish to save Forster Country and those who wish it to be concreted over.
“But this is something new!” said Mrs Munt, who collected new ideas as a squirrel collects nuts.”
Forster uses both humour and words to paint Mrs Munt’s character wonderfully. He also hints at the possibility that her ideas are nutty too. It will take some, ‘out of the box’ thinking to save Forster Country now but we are open to all your ideas.
“Live in fragments no longer, only connect.”
Omnia vanitas - all is ego. It is the ego which creates the illusion that we are individuals. It is nature that confirms that everything in the universe is connected. This is why it is so important to connect with nature and live in fragments no longer. This is why it is so important to fight to protect it.
“Nature pulls one way and human nature another.”
We are living in a time of climate change and the human race is sleepwalking towards extinction. Our situation can appear overwhelming and, if we are to turn things around, it will take all of us doing something, rather than a few of us doing everything. You cannot do all the good in the world but the world needs all the good you can do. That is why the fight for Forster Country is such an important one.