enclosure and breathing spaces


One thought on “enclosure and breathing spaces

  1. Morag:
    When Lisa and I walked from Raymond Williams’ home through some fields and then quite soon up on to the Black Mountains, we went on to the common land where the graziers – the farmers round the common – can have their animals in common. It was a steep climb so we immediately sat on a tump where we noticed these bees flying – loads of them – going into the ground and they were solitary bees called Ashy Mining Bees. There was something about these bees that made me think of Raymond Williams talking about common land. He called them breathing spaces: for poorer people who were quite hard pressed financially and who didn’t have many resources, so the common was a breathing space for them in terms of if they were quite badly off they could go and get a few sticks or they could hide a few bee hives in the heather just to make that edge between surviving and not surviving. We started talking about these complex debates around hill farming, including George Monbiot’s idea that you should just reforest the uplands and the idea that the uplands are maybe a psychological breathing space for us where we can wander at will and where there aren’t fences. The bank, where the bees were, looked quite marginal and scruffy. It looked quite eroded and you wouldn’t think anything of it: that it’s not good for anything; it’s all just crumbling away but that’s what the bees need: they need this crumbly land to burrow in and then – perfectly for them – around the edge of the common was the enclosed land with the hedgerows and fruit trees that this particular species of bee feeds upon.


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