Monday, 8 November 2010

Whirlwinds and silence

Frost or snow? Nor sure really but they look like
icing covered oak leaves
Tuesday evening last week was an amazing evening as we met two women from the Latvian State Forest Service in the car park of the local government office and within half an hour they had organised for me to travel with them to a meeting to sort out a placement for my course and booked us an appointment with a forest guy to look at our forest plan - not only that but organised a translator too. What a whirlwind of characters those two appear to be. Then we had a chance meeting with some friends who are busy organising a national launch of a programme to help people with addictions (quite important when alcoholism is so prevalent) and so we weren't going to be able to see them for a fortnight (two weeks for my American friends) and we just happened to be eating out at the same hotel on the same night so that worked out well. Next we caught up with our other friends out on their farm. Not bad for one evening - that doesn't happen very often here in Latvia things usually move at a much slower pace thank goodness. Mind you in the end it was decided that I didn't really need to go with the two ladies to the meeting as they would be talking shop most of the day and so would be a long way to go for little benefit. What a shame I was really looking forward to being up at 6am to be ready in time to go (just in case you miss it I am being a tad sarcastic, I was looking forward to the meeting but not the early rise and being in shape for a long car drive with two human dynamos). All is not lost though as I am now in email contact with two people who can help me out with placements and so far that is looking promising, some sort of progress anyway.

Fruit bushes all wrapped up in their winter fir coats
We did get to meet up with the forest guy though and he was a little bemused as to why we wanted to see him but we did manage to establish that Ian can cut down as many trees as he needed to, that are 12 cm or less but we did need extra papers to allow him to cut down anything bigger so that gives us a little breathing space while we work out exactly how much needs to be cut by cutting out the smaller trees first and then seeing what else needs to go. The forest is looking quite open now, even with just the small trees cut out and so should give much more light and space for some of the slower growing trees like the maples and oaks. We should have quite a diverse forest by the time we finish. Well that's the plan anyway. Also found out this week that every forest in Latvia needs an inventory of the trees in it, but not a management plan as I thought, unless you want to do anything in it like cut down bigger trees, so it is an inventory that needs to be carried out every ten years. Next I need to find out who does that. Confused! No different to many folks here! So much has changed in the last twenty years with the collapse of the Soviet system followed by the introduction of European rules that not many people really know exactly what is required for many aspects of life here and so the endless chasing around is not unusual. A drop of transparency with some clear, readily available guidelines of who to see when wouldn't go amiss.

Smelt like Christmas whilst wrapping
up the bushes and look like lots of
mini Christmas trees dotted about. Just
hope it works to keep them protected
against snow, ice and nibbling deer
The news about the A380s came as a bit of a shock this week as we are booked on one for our trip to Australia in December and I wondered if all A380s would be grounded, but it turns out the one we are booked onto has a different engine, so that's okay ..... isn't it? Mind you our daughter who returned to Oz pointed out that it was entirely possible that she had flown on that very plane only 5 days earlier - could all be a bit scary really if you chose to dwell on those kinds of things. What ifs are far too time consuming and soul destroying to linger long on that kind of thing.

With the major work completed on our other apartment, our barn progressing nicely, and some progress on getting a placement for my course things seem to be chugging along now, albeit slowly at times, but at least it is in the right direction. It does make me wonder though what lessons are being learnt in the process of waiting, after all we waited 7 months for the polytunnel to get built and so far the barn has taken 5 months with some fairly incomprehensible reasons like no wood in a country covered by over 50% forest, and I think I got part of the answer this week by reading a blog by Steve Lowton. He is going through his own waiting time and he doesn't do waiting very well but is beginning to see the point of slowing things down and discovering some of the ancient pathways of silence and stillness where you have to wrestle with your own personal demons. Standing in our forest yesterday having just dragged out some of the felled trees we just stood and listened, the silence was deafening and a welcome drink to the soul. Having to wait though is not all about drinking in the silence as it can also bring with it a certain amount of powerlessness and the impotence to do anything which frustrates planning. Learning to live with that is hard but if it is something your used to like the poor and dispossessed of this world then can be life-sapping, as decisions are taken that outside of their control. Planning is meaningless for them as the powers that be chop and change their minds and still the poor wait for justice. Often our waiting is only a matter of time and we are not short of choices but for the poor they have no choices and that is the most disabling of all. So next time you are stuck in waiting for the powers to be to turn up, or waiting for a plane that is late, think of those who for whom waiting in a powerless state is a way of life and not a momentary inconvenience.

Frosted blackcurrant leaves
Well on this snowy night (isn't it a good job I am not setting off to a meeting tomorrow) and the thought of valued silence in the forest it reminded me of a poem I wrote last year, so here it is.

More frosted blackcurrant leaves

A quiet place!
The snow lay thick on the ground
and a grey blanket spread out
covering the sky
"Shuuush!" He said
"Why?" asked the little one
"But I can't hear anything."
"I know!....
It's beautiful!"
he said in awed tones,
and the silence hung in the air
like the ice from the trees
easily shattered.


  1. I think that many lessons are learnt in the time of waiting, not least of all the powerlessness and just letting God be God and allow Him to do what He does. But you're so right about the poor and marginalised in the world - they are powerless in the whole political, economic and social systems of the world and depend on others to make a difference for them.

    I like your poem - beautiful.

  2. Thanks Mavis for your comments and glad you like the poem.

    The fact that the powerless depend on others to make a difference to them should be motivation enough but rarely is which is a shame

  3. good to hear from you Joanna, Yes, Lancashire. Originally from Barrow-in-Furness now living in sunny?? Blackburn,

  4. Nice to see where you are! Colder than here!

  5. Bit warmer this week but that just means dark, damp and miserable. Looking forward to the temperatures dropping again.


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