I took my Year 7 Philosophy class outside on Friday for our weekly lessons.

The weather was beautiful and we started with a mindful walk around the lake in silence for fifteen minutes. We stopped to reflect by the mysterious Celtic Cross that is at the intersection of school land with our neighbour's.

The boys commented that because they were silent they saw more, heard more and noticed things. It is nice sometimes to get out of the classroom and connect with nature. We finished by sitting by the unlit fire- basket and discussing some philosophical observations. The conversation moved to ecology and two boys told me that they had joined the Green Party.

This conversation brought to mind DH Lawrence and his poem Snake, which I will share with you:

A snake came to my water-trough
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there.

In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob tree I came down the steps with my pitcher. And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough
             before me.

He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom. And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over 
             the edge of the stone trough
And rested his throat upon the stone bottom.
And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness,
He sipped with his straight mouth,
Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body,
Silently.

Someone was before me at my water-trough,
And I, like a second-comer, waiting.

He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do,
And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do,
And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, and mused
         a moment,
And stooped and drank a little more,
Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowel
         of the earth
On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking.

The voice of my education said to me
He must be killed,
For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold
           are venomous.

And voices in me said, If you were a man
You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.

But must I confess how I liked him,
How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink
          at my water-trough
And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless,
Into the burning bowels of this earth?

Was it cowardice, that I dared not kill him?
Was it perversity, that I longed to talk to him?
Was it humility, to feel so honoured?
I felt so honoured.

And yet those voices:
If you were not afraid, you would kill him!

And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid,
But even so, honoured still more
That he should seek my hospitality
From out the dark door of the secret earth.

He drank enough
And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken,
And flickered his tongue like a forked night on the air, so black,
Seeming to lick his lips,
And looked around like a god, unseeing, into the air,
And slowly turned his head; And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice adream,
Proceeded to draw his slow length curving round
And climb again the broken bank of my wall-face.

And as he put his head into that dreadful hole,
And as he slowly drew up, snake-easing his shoulders
             and entered farther,
A sort of horror, a sort of protest against his withdrawing into
             that horrid black hole,
Deliberately going into the blackness, and slowly drawing
             himself after,
Overcame me now his back was turned.

I looked round, I put down my pitcher,
I picked up a clumsy log
And threw it at the water-trough with a clatter.

I think it did not hit him,

But suddenly that part of him that was left behind convulsed
            in an undignified haste,
Writhed like lightning, and was gone
Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front,
At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with fascination.

And immediately I regretted it.
I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!
I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education.

And I thought of the albatross,
And I wished he would come back, my snake.

For he seemed to me again like a king,
Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld,
Now due to be crowned again.

And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords
Of life.
And I have something to expiate:
A pettiness.

Our connection to the natural world is essential on many levels; this connection is mysterious and necessary and should not be explained away.