An unforgettable character
"To see a human being reveal really exceptional qualities one must be able to observe his activities over many years. If these activities are completely unselfish; if the idea motivating them is unique in its magnanimity; if it is quite certain they have never looked for any reward; and if in addition they have left visible traces on the world - then one may say, without fear of error, that one is in the presence of an unforgettable character."
I was recommended Jean Giono’s, The Man Who Planted Trees, by a friend a few years ago. It made a huge impression on me then and continues to inform my decisions today, especially the short introduction to the book which I have copied out above.
The book is thought to be a true story. It describes a man who chose an unhurried existence, living alone with his sheep and his dog. It struck him that that particular part of the country was dying for lack of trees, so he decided to put things right. He sought perfect acorns and carefully planted tens of thousands of trees, dedicating his entire life to restoring the countryside, and he did it in complete solitude. Eventually, the region grew healthy and prosperous.
It is a story about kindness, and an astonishing example human nature. It also draws in the fragility of the countryside and how we must protect our surroundings.
It makes me want to wear the amazing earthy Erdem jacket I picked up in a sample sale a few years ago, surround myself by countryside and of course, to somehow be a tiny bit as wonderful as The Man Who Planted Trees.