Roger Deakin at Walnut Tree Farm
Roger Deakin at Walnut Tree Farm

How to bring nature into your digital world 5. Stone and wood in your workspace.

I’ve been reading Roger Deakin’s wonderful book ‘Wildwood: a journey through trees‘, and was thrilled by his descriptions of Walnut Tree Farm, the moated farmhouse where he lived for many years before his untimely death in 2006.  He bought the house in 1969 after spotting it nestling in neglected woodland, its ruined chimney rising above the trees. In the years that followed he slowly and lovingly renovated it piece by piece. He slept in every part of the property, including its fields. He swam joyously in its weed-filled moat.

Deakin was a nature geek and a craftsman. We can learn from him and combine his sensibilities with our online lives to create workspaces with his world in mind. And of all the things he made, it is his desk which most fascinates and inspires me.  He wrote in his journal:

Building the new desk under the window in the study, looking south across the garden to the moat. Perfectionism kicks in and all the same self-critical criteria that go into a piece of writing. I make a yew bracket to peg to the oak wall post and support the top, a slab of fine-grained Oregon pine, and a careful wooden sub-frame or chassis. I fill some open cracks in the grain with plaster, smooth it down and carefully stain it pale blue using a delicate watercolour brush. I hollow out one of the old bolt-holes in the top to accommodate a smooth, round flattened pebble from the Hebrides, like a tiny curling stone. It is a sort of worry-bead. (p17)

a stone from the beach

Try it.

Make some space on your desk for stone, wood, or shells that you have cleaned and shaped yourself.

Set aside a few minutes each day to enjoy the feel of them in your hands – the surface, the weight, the coolness, the warmth.

You may even choose to work colours and materials into the surface of the desk, as he describes above.

A treat, perhaps, for fingers more accustomed to keyboards and screens.