c. 1300, “to regain consciousness,” from Anglo-French rekeverer (13c.), Old French recovrer “come back, return; regain health; procure, get again” (11c.), from Medieval Latin recuperare “to recover” (source of Spanish recobrar, Italian ricoverare; see recuperation). Meaning “to regain health or strength” is from early 14c.; sense of “to get (anything) back” is first attested mid-14c. Related: Recovered; recovering.
Unfortunately, centuries of Henry-Ford factorial specialisation and the ensuing technologies since have isolated workers from the natural unions we all once relied on. The emergence of increased specialist realms created a new form of tribalism in which physical work, so-called manual labour and laboursome work, lessened and fewer and fewer people worked alongside each other. Couple manufacturing with consumerism, economics and politics and you begin to see more, dare I say it, a toxic mix that excludes that union we physical workers once relied on to exist and coexist with. Woodworkers for the main part seem less and less to see any actual association between the wood racks filled with wood and the woodlands and forests the timber came from. Becoming a mere commodity to convert into money made linkage to the land all more a faceless unknown. In my world spending five decades looking at trees and leaves and then the wood resulting from harvests, its an outdoor, freestanding store house in stands needing no concrete walls and tin roofs. It’s the permaculture I rely on, seek always to be as much a part of possible, and indeed the permaculture of supply on the one hand, abundantly if cared for, and then a simpler form of demand. Permaculture is my place to shelter beneath branches when the rains come and the wind blows and a filter from the sun’s rays in heat or brilliance. Of course this is to a degree unreal to. I don’t live in woodlands. Not yet anyway but I have enjoyed decades of living in the countryside surrounded by the brilliance of wildness.
In my workshop these woodlands come with me in wellbeing and then too the woods I work, even just the thought of them, help me to recover my sanity by the working of my material, the replanting of trees, the working with my own hands and the power I find in using hand tools. By this I perpetuate the good I mostly only find hand tools alone give me. Permaculture as a conditional name was birthed in the 1970s by joining the word permanent with agriculture. Then too, and equally importantly, it’s the recovery of my craft in not only my own life but then too the lives of hundreds of thousands looking to regain their own form of recovery themselves. This is not the stuff of news reported by the media. They just need new wallpaper each hour of the day. No, what I am talking about is more gentle, a slower form of regeneration where piece by piece you replace, replenish, restore, recreate. A joint is formed to one corner and then another elsewhere, the union of parts begins to stand on its own feet and freedom seems to surround its very being. The composing of parts begins with grain; there is the shade of colour and the consideration of grain configuration. Composing the grain this way composes the mind. It’s no quick thing nor should it be. We place the pieces on the bench as we might notes to a music score. Our joinery too becomes part of the composition and we think thickness, alignment, weakness and strength. These things you cannot achieve with dowels and biscuits and dominoes: more skilless alternatives designed more for fastness, sheet goods and such.
Becoming aware, regaining our consciousness, means stepping out of a conveyor-belt mentality not just to work but to life itself. This year began with my deciding to no longer cycle for health but to use my vehicle less. It’s another step towards greater sanity and recovery. At aged fifteen I cycled to work on a worn out bike. I saw my owning a car as a sign of my maturing. Such was the time. Why, at 70, would I not cycle the two miles to work. Before this point I was cycling 10-15 miles in the morning for exercise but driving to work so that I would have access to the car should I need it. Now I cycle to work on a circuitous route covering the same mileage but now I combine exercise with my will to lessen my carbon footprint. Course it means wearing waterproofs leaving the house but I have to say it feels so good. The UK of course lends itself to cycling. The distances are shorter and there are extensive cycle paths if you can call some of them that (bit rugged in places). I can’t undo the damage done over the century but recovery never comes by complacency nor without effort. We just do what we can.