Tag: ecology

once upon a time

Here’s another little poem, courtesy of https://randomwordgenerator.com/ – the word I got was restless …

round the world in
eighty hours
speed the essence
time the prize
left behind our
easy livings
slow progressions
simple skies




Midnight Meditation

I couldn’t let today pass by without saying something about the climate change protests that have taken place around the globe. Let armchair critics have their outraged rants about schoolchildren missing lessons and adult working days being lost, their fury fueled by reactionary media in cahoots with tax evaders and toxic polluters. I believe we’ve heard too much cynical mockery of youthful idealism and more than enough nasty ridicule of the ‘snowflake’ variety. The future belongs to young people and their children and it’s absolutely right that they have their say now, before it’s too late. The times, along with the old demographics, are changing and if politicians understand anything at all it is the power of symbols to change hearts and minds – a power exponentially amplified in the huge whispering gallery of a deregulated social media. In the increasingly faint but fervent hope that our wars can remain purely cultural, I’ve chosen a picture which seems to strike some kind of balance. It’s a balance between science and art, man and nature, pessimism and optimism, work and play, now and forever. After all, as everybody really knows, the best things in life are free …

Image result for climate change pictures

 

Image: Time Magazine

Home Truths

 

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Reading this, it’s easy to despair.

But my irrepressible inner optimist reminds me of something Karl Marx said. Mankind, he suggests, always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve.

If that is true then all we need to do is to embrace the idea of ‘a spiritual and cultural transformation’ where selfishness, greed and apathy become history and new collective values take their place.

Simples?

I only wish it was. My fear is that things are going to get worse before they can get better. And fear is a big inhibitor of imagination. How to imagine a better future, eh? How to remember the past in a way that helps us construct a brighter world?

Ah, such difficult questions for the solitary blogger! Perhaps TS Eliot can offer  assistance. Here’s the opening of Burnt Norton, the first of his Four Quartets:

 

“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?
Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,
Round the corner. Through the first gate,
Into our first world, shall we follow
The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.
There they were, dignified, invisible,
Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves,
In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air,
And the bird called, in response to
The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,
And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses
Had the look of flowers that are looked at.
There they were as our guests, accepted and accepting.
So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern,
Along the empty alley, into the box circle,
To look down into the drained pool.
Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,
And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,
The surface glittered out of heart of light,
And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.
Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.”

 

Human kind cannot bear very much reality

I wonder? What do you think?

 

Image result for bird in bush

 

Image: Flickr

 

Back in Time

Image may contain: tree, plant, outdoor and nature

I’m halfway through reading an inspiring book, the true story of how a couple gave up conventional farming and allowed their land to revert to its natural state. They let wild ponies, deer, longhorn cattle and pigs roam and graze freely with astonishing results – an explosion of plant-life, insects, birds and mammals – many of them rare and some even endangered.

Such diversity recalls ancient times, when the earth’s species evolved side by side. As a result the book abounds with close detail but the writing is always impassioned and the message – that Nature knows best – so compelling that I find myself galloping through it, a smile never far from my lips and even the occasional tear brimming. Somehow or other, it feels like coming home …

The book is called Wilding: The return of nature to a British farm (Picador) and it’s by Isabella Tree, an established writer and co-owner of the farm. She certainly knows her onions, as they say! And the short video below offers a brief taster …

 

Image result for wilding isabella tree

 

Green Breakthrough?

Following on from my previous post, you might like to hit the link below for some positive news.

Well, it’s a start! Good to know ‘people power’ can have a favourable outcome, anyhow! And unlike the result of the UK referendum, this popular vote does at least have the benefit of some solid scientific expertise. It’s not a complete leap into the dark.

Could schemes such as this, I wonder, help us bridge seemingly irreconcilable social and political divisions?

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-breakdown-rewilding-petition-carbon-nature-recovery-a8940701.html?fbclid=IwAR2-dty9OhG8YUXlEPoav4NmtxVPdN4aLZ4XPLpqYPohP5x_8mD3P5AdQtk

 

Image result for rewilding

 

Image: http://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk

Sweet Dreams

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Ouch!

The brutal truth behind this comic representation is hard to face – any laugh the cartoon evokes is likely to be a bitter one.

By way of preparation for my own writing I’ve been reading the poems of John Clare, an agricultural worker whose life was blighted by the forced enclosure of common land almost two hundred years ago. People fled the countryside in droves for the towns and cities.

In his rough verse with its gentle dialect, Clare describes somewhat sadly how a sustainable way of life lasting many centuries gave way to the first stirrings of capitalist agribusiness. With hindsight we can glimpse in his words the beginnings of the process whereby relatively balanced ecologies mutated into sterile farming factories run by machine.

Is it too far-fetched, I wonder, to imagine a future where this process is reversed – where humankind and the natural world have once again learned to co-exist in symbiotic harmony? I read this from a report on the Hay book festival in today’s Guardian Review:

Climate is at the forefront of the minds of novelists, particularly John Lanchester and Amitav Ghosh, the latter recalling being caught in a freak tornado … ‘In novel after novel, I tried to write about this … and I could never do it … What happens in real life is more improbable than what happens in a book – and this is the paradox of the modern novel,’ he said.

Lanchester … championed the ‘moral obligation to be optimistic, because … if we despair we won’t act’. Most of the people set to be affected by the climate emergency are yet to be born. ‘That’s why works of the imagination are so important,’ Lanchester said. ‘In effect we are having to imagine these people into being and then act on behalf of their interests. This is a new thing.’

In the spirit of this, I wonder if it’s possible to read John Clare’s words not only as the chronicle of a tragic past but also as the prophesy of a more hopeful future?

 

The Moors

Far spread the moorey ground a level scene
Bespread with rush and one eternal green
That never felt the rage of blundering plough
Though centurys wreathed spring’s blossoms on its brow
Still meeting plains that stretched them far away
In uncheckt shadows of green brown, and grey
Unbounded freedom ruled the wandering scene
Nor fence of ownership crept in between
To hide the prospect of the following eye
Its only bondage was the circling sky
One mighty flat undwarfed by bush and tree
Spread its faint shadow of immensity
And lost itself, which seemed to eke its bounds
In the blue mist the horizon’s edge surrounds
Now this sweet vision of my boyish hours
Free as spring clouds and wild as summer flowers
Is faded all – a hope that blossomed free,
And hath been once, no more shall ever be
Inclosure came and trampled on the grave
Of labour’s rights and left the poor a slave
And memory’s pride ere want to wealth did bow
Is both the shadow and the substance now
The sheep and cows were free to range as then
Where change might prompt nor felt the bonds of men
Cows went and came, with evening morn and night,
To the wild pasture as their common right
And sheep, unfolded with the rising sun
Heard the swains shout and felt their freedom won
Tracked the red fallow field and heath and plain
Then met the brook and drank and roamed again
The brook that dribbled on as clear as glass
Beneath the roots they hid among the grass
While the glad shepherd traced their tracks along
Free as the lark and happy as her song
But now all’s fled and flats of many a dye
That seemed to lengthen with the following eye
Moors, loosing from the sight, far, smooth, and blea
Where swoopt the plover in its pleasure free
Are vanished now with commons wild and gay
As poet’s visions of life’s early day
Mulberry-bushes where the boy would run
To fill his hands with fruit are grubbed and done
And hedgrow-briars – flower-lovers overjoyed
Came and got flower-pots – these are all destroyed
And sky-bound moors in mangled garbs are left
Like mighty giants of their limbs bereft
Fence now meets fence in owners’ little bounds
Of field and meadow large as garden grounds
In little parcels little minds to please
With men and flocks imprisoned ill at ease
Each little path that led its pleasant way
As sweet as morning leading night astray
Where little flowers bloomed round a varied host
That travel felt delighted to be lost
Nor grudged the steps that he had ta-en as vain
When right roads traced his journeys and again –
Nay, on a broken tree he’d sit awhile
To see the moors and fields and meadows smile
Sometimes with cowslaps smothered – then all white
With daiseys – then the summer’s splendid sight
Of cornfields crimson o’er the headache bloomd
Like splendid armys for the battle plumed
He gazed upon them with wild fancy’s eye
As fallen landscapes from an evening sky
These paths are stopt – the rude philistine’s thrall
Is laid upon them and destroyed them all
Each little tyrant with his little sign
Shows where man claims earth glows no more divine
But paths to freedom and to childhood dear
A board sticks up to notice ‘no road here’
And on the tree with ivy overhung
The hated sign by vulgar taste is hung
As tho’ the very birds should learn to know
When they go there they must no further go
Thus, with the poor, scared freedom bade goodbye
And much they feel it in the smothered sigh
And birds and trees and flowers without a name
All sighed when lawless law’s enclosure came
And dreams of plunder in such rebel schemes
Have found too truly that they were but dreams.

John Clare

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

I’ve voted Labour all my adult life, in every single election – whether local, national or European. But on Thursday I’m going to break the habit and vote Green.

I’m attracted by their coherent policy on Brexit, sure, although I’m equally drawn to the message so clearly given below by this remarkable young lady and endorsed by so many of her peers around the world. It really is time to listen to those who will be most affected by the future we are giving them.