The Oak Papers

James Canton

The Oak Papers
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The Oak Papers

James Canton

Oaks are born and die on the same patch of earth. It is that sure-footedness that is so appealing. Ancient oaks hold a powerful sense of the longevity of life. The sense of security, of attachment to place, enchants us. You can stand beneath a grand oak and know that your more distant ancestors did so too.

This is the story of one man’s relationship to an ancient tree, the Honywood Oak. Colossal and wizened, it would have been a sapling when the Magna Carta was signed in 1215.

James Canton spent two years sitting with and studying this unique tree. It was an exercise in discipline- he needed to slow down in order to appreciate it fully, to tune in to it, to connect with the ecosystem that lives around, inside and under it.

In this stunning, meditative treatise, he examines our long-standing relationship with trees, a material as well as a source of myth and legend, and of solace. We no longer build our houses from the sturdy oak and its relatives, use them to fuel our fires or grind their seeds and nuts into flour in times of famine. Physically, we don’t need them. Or do we? The natural world has lessons for us - if we slow down enough to listen.     

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