This week as a family we went back to the future. Whilst I am no Marty McFly or Doc, and we don't have a Flux Capacitor or lightening striking our town's clock tower; we did glimpse a way of life long forgotten. As we stepped back in time, away from the hectic modern world and into a more natural and sedate way of living, we experienced a re-connection with nature that allowed us to switch off, unplug and fully appreciate what we have in this world.
As I watched my ten-year-old daughter play on the rope swing and my son, aged 6, chop wood for the fire, it felt like we had stepped into another world. The woodpecker, song thrush, blue tits and nuthatch were residents and sheep with newborn lambs our neighbours. There were no screens, no TV or radio, in fact, no electricity. Just a wooden house built into oak trees in a forest in the middle of Wales.
We had to chop wood to heat the treehouse and running water, used an outside long-drop toilet and kept our milk cool in a stone fridge. Yes, we had comfy beds and double-glazed windows - but the whole ethos of the treehouse is to make as little impact on its natural surroundings as possible. Living Room Treehouse Experience Wales was set up 10 years ago and has been fully booked ever since, not withstanding Covid closures. The farm on which the woodland is situated has been in the Jones family for over 200 years. The treehouses actually protect the woodland which may have been felled, and when the houses are removed after their 20 year lifespan, there will be no evidence they were even there, such is their minimal impact and footprint on the land.
As I type this, a notification pops up on my laptop screen - it is a reminder of my screen usage - which so happens to be down by 19% this past week. Given the holiday we have just had, this is no surprise. But how can I keep this number down and reduce how much I stare at a screen in the long term? I firmly believe that going back and reclaiming the good of the past, bringing it forward and into the future is a more sustainable way of living, as nature intended and with integrity. I also believe using old methods, passed down from generation to generation (pre-Industrial revolution) is the answer to our climate crisis - a fusion of old ways that have stood the test of time and are proven to work, combined with current science and technology.
Why do we throw out old ways that worked as soon as something new and shiny presents itself? We quickly move from the latest and greatest invention to the next, throwing out the old, and moving forward without so much as a backward glance. Those of us who do consider previous ways of living are considered, at best, nostalgic, wearing rose tinted spectacles and old fashioned, or at worst, out of touch, stubborn or luddites! How can we change this? Well, as Whitney once sang, "I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way." If we as adults, who have lived long enough to remember the good of the past, can instil these values and pass on ways of being to our children at home and school, we may have a chance to turn the tide on the variety of crisis we face - crisis of loneliness, confidence, obesity, mental health conditions, chronic illness, consumerism and the environment.
I am reading a book titled Back to Nature by Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin - it is an eye opener to say the least! I will review it in a post soon, but whilst reading this and other books, it is starting to become crystal clear in my mind that sadly our government will do little to change the world we live in - there is too much self-interest, red tape and entrenched tradition. Change starts with one person, making choices based on what is good for us all, living in a way that supports and appreciates what we have before it is gone. Change is not self-care, it is not what's best for me, but rather, how can I make a difference for the good of others.
The irony of having to pay for a holiday that gets us back to ways of living that were considered 'normal life' is not lost on me. The organic food we pay over the odds for at the supermarket is the food our grandparents ate from their allotments and back gardens. The novel experiences of 'getting back to nature' should be our everyday experience. We can all choose less screen time, more family time, decide to connect with our natural surroundings regularly, eat less processed food, move our bodies more and reduce stress - we don't need a tree house in a beautiful wood to do that. We also don't need more money, more time or to live in a different part of the world. Simple, small decisions add up to make long term change. 10 minutes less screen time a day, equals just over an hour less a week. A walk in your local park with a friend or family member, beats sitting on the sofa binging on Netflix. And making just one organic, locally produced choice of food such as milk or vegetables reduces your carbon footprint and supports local farmers.
Usually, I ask for your comments below or on my Instagram @iamsarahalexcarter, but this time I would encourage you to make a choice this week that gets you back to your roots, closer to nature, more in tune with those around you and the life you lead. What small, simple alternatives can you introduce into your life that in the long term will have a positive impact on the world around you?
I will start this week by sowing some veg in seed trays - nothing fancy - tomatoes, lettuce and chilli. I will grow these on my windowsill and enjoy eating them in the summer - no green house or Flux Capacitor required!
Image via https://www.living-room.co