On Numbers (More)

It’s said pathogens

Have one aim; to reproduce.

We no different.

~

n.b. Dress life up as we might, but without children we have no legacy; we die out as a species. All we do has no meaning without the generations that follow. We are otherwise just marking time.

The sociability of humanity is how we ensure that children can thrive so they too can mature to take up the task of reproduction. It is an inclusive process.

Cooperation not competition.

CLP 20/11/2020

Day 52

I turn off the road and follow a track through the woodland. Today the cool is most welcome as the sun is strong. It is a rare day of constant warmth and I have spent too long in the open.

The canopy of sycamore, oak and ash whilst thin, is nearly complete. Bluebells are not the only flowers here bringing a touch of the sky to ground. I see a mass of tiny blue flowers decorating thin stalks dabbed among fresh nettles. I make my way over to them crossing a carpet of dry twigs and dead brambles. I think that these are Wood forget-me-knots. They are in their natural habitat here, a remnant of ancient woodland.

The nettles are a delicate fresh green. I am stung on my shin as I turn back towards the road.

The pinging sensation lingers on my skin for much of the rest of the day. It reminds me vividly of last May, working in Somerset at the end of lambing, when we were moving the cows to fresh pasture and learning how to herd the ewes and their gambolling lambs along too. There were plenty of nettles there.

My son, on a break from the hospital sends four photographs from his family walk today. They have come across a large slow worm lying on a track in a patch of sunlight in their local wood. They all look well.

I take a circuitous route back home. As I follow the lanes round to the coast road I think back to the emerging colours of flowers I have seen these few weeks. Yellows predominant as Spring begins, soon followed by masses of white. Delicate violets and purple mix into that confection and now, once the blues have arrived, it is the pink and pale red flowers coming out on the verges and in the hedges to join the the white of the May Tree and yellow of gorse and dandelions.

Along the top of one hedge I see numerous lilac panicles. Today is the 75th anniversary of VE Day, (Victory in Europe, 1945). I choose not to gather any of the flowers, preferring to let them grow wild – and according to the old war song gathering lilac is not meant to be a solitary activity.

Out to catch a glimpse of the fiery sunset at the back of the house, I find myself having to dodge a large droning insect with a fierce looking spike. It settled on one of the lower branches of the goat’s willow.  I have been told that this odd-shaped creature, with its slow heavy wing and a drone louder and lower in pitch than a bumble bee, is a May Bug, or doodle bug. The protuberance identifies the female bug as it is a tube for laying eggs into the root layer of the ground, where its hatching grubs feed on the roots of grasses. 

The May Bug is not a popular insect with farmers trying to produce wheat and barley. Chemical controls have prevented infestations in recent years. I am delighted they have survived in this area, as will be the rooks, who enjoy feeding on the grubs of these odd-looking creatures. The May Bug grubs are apparently known as “rookworms” in some areas because of the attraction they hold to the crow family.

The sunset is diluted by a brief, heavy rain shower. Low, thick clouds prevent any sign of the moon, bright as it might be.

.

Christopher Perry

8th May, 2020

Day 49

There are some very long-lived people resident in Norfolk; the cool climate is clearly a contributor. Like living in a massive fridge, the chill stops one from going off, perhaps. I struggle with the dichotomy of clear blue sky matched with being perpetually cold. It is also true of this neck of the woods that there are few residents, apart from at weekends and during the holiday seasons, so those who are permanent are clearly hardy, adaptable folk.

I heard a remark today that captures an essence of this period. “The days go by so fast, but each day is so slow.” Something very strange is happening to our experience of time. 

Today is another Wednesday. It is the fiftieth day of writing about what I am witnessing here, but it still all seems new. Perhaps this practise of writing something about each day keeps it so for me. The gradual emergence of Spring comes later here in comparison to the southern coast. I have an opportunity to note the natural changes as they arise.

I sense the changing tilt of sunlight in these days between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. This time when days lengthen and shadows shorten has often been lost to me before. School and then study and then work have always been busy during this phase of the solar cycle, so I am blessed to be able to immerse myself in it this year. 

It is less than six weeks to Midsummer’s day, (just 46 days) and from then the days will shorten, the shadows lengthen. Of course, the air will be warmer, the soil heated and the long tail of Summer leading into Autumn will pass through some blissful days, but it is this phase, when each day is brighter and longer than the last that is the time of renewal, growth and hope. I pray that I am able to appreciate each one, as and when each arrives.

In the sunlit evening, I put on a thick, windproof jacket, zip it to my chin and step out into the blustery air. I do not treat the walk as exercise, but as a stroll. I take my time to move within, rather than through the landscape. This allows me to see the muntjac deer before it hears me coming, to enjoy the leverets chasing each other, to watch the rabbits nibbling and to study the hedge birds hopping about from branch to nest and perch. In one instance, in the wood on the hill, two young rabbits come towards me. I halt my gentle pace and am able to watch them for a few undisturbed moments before they amble off under the brambles.

This Spring I have been able to see the difference between blackthorn and hawthorn by the time of their flowering. The blackthorn is turned to green leaves before the hawthorn’s May Flower sprouts. The blackthorn covers large areas of the escarpment below the heath and when in blossom presents a picture akin to a dusting of snow. The hawthorn trees are more dispersed and so there is no blanket coverage to wonder at, but the hawthorn explodes into flower when the right conditions arrive, which here, this year come at the very end of April and now, the first week of the May.

I eventually turn onto the coast road, edging the old salt marshes. It is mayhem out there. Various hatchlings are out and parent birds are fighting tooth and claw to protect the young from marauders. I have mentioned the birds of prey and the carrion before, but now gulls are more commonly seen too. The larger gulls are not averse to adding eggs, or young to their omnivorous diet. The peewit parents exhaust themselves in defensive duties. It is now that their speed and agility in flight becomes vital to the survival of their species.

Another more commonly seen bird, overlooked and unremarked on because of its modest size, is the pied wagtail. There are several active around the Green at the bottom of the Purdy Street. These birds with jerky, clockwork movements are happy catching small insects. Sometimes they flitter a few feet into the air, almost in a hover, to catch something, at other times they walk restlessly, pecking to left and right at the ground for easier pickings. When they stand still, tail wagging up and down, with short, sharp, black beak pointing slightly upward, they are preparing to fly. 

They seem to need a moment to compose themselves before springing into the air and making their way on an undulating flight path. They land with a silent splash of black and white, often not far from the point of lift off, before resuming their mechanical-toy movements. The pied wagtail emits chirpy notes as it goes about its business. Just enough to attract attention, not enough to call a song, although they do have songs in the repertoire.

At last an evening with some play – dominoes. This is a game that allows some conversation and distraction. It is not overly competitive, because of the luck of the draw, but a game that allows gentle conversation, whichever variation is played. I teach my sister two new variations and remind her of a third. An enjoyable evening.

After your on-line choir we talk by telephone for well over an hour, in fact until well-past midnight. I fall asleep exhausted, you find sleep eventually.

.

Christopher Perry

5th May, 2020

The Sun’s Set – A Review

So much consistent applause for this show

It seems almost clichéd to join in

But this is one that faultlessly runs day into night

Night after night

Responding fearlessly to the high pressure

Of repeat performances

With magical lighting

Sound effects delightful

Words cannot capture the exquisite beauty

Her Infinite variety of displays

Fearless artistic improvisation

Every evening

Leading her co-stars on stage

With the most brilliant first, Venus

Then too many to mention by name that follow

Except, the Moon

A sickle crescent now – 

Wait until she shines full

Happily, I would watch this every evening

.

n.b. www.napowrimo.net Day 27 prompt: Write a review in poem form of something that may not usually get reviews.

Christopher Perry

27th April, 2020

Time Travellers

Since Columbus sailed, has anyone heard?

What did he find?  Eden, Hades, or a New World?

He left all he knew behind, but what was it he took?

Coughs, sneezes, The Holy Cross, The Good Shepherd’s crook

Any people he meets will be innocent of these:

The Spanish Inquisition and Europe’s most common disease

“Hell is other people” wrote Jean-Paul Sartre

Three ships sailing from Europe were simply the start

.

n.b.  www.napowri.net Day 6 prompt an ekphrastic challenge.

Hieronymus Bosch painted ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ around the time Cristoforo Colombo sailed for the East Indies by heading west.  Colombo had touted his unlikely project around the kingdoms of Europe for years until Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain finally agreed to fund his adventure. 

Did Bosch the painter know of this far-fetched expedition and the subsequent discoveries by the Genovese sailor? Is this nightmarish painting a portent of what would be visited by Europeans on the peoples of these lands that were to be labelled after the Florentine, Amerigo Vespuscci?

The images in the painting begin with the Garden of Eden. This pastoral setting, our collective past is always imagined to be better than today, if not perfect. The Garden of Earthly Delights, is the present; always a time of excess and pleasure seeking. Hell is the future; a fearful extrapolation from the worst aspects of today.

But what is Hell? In Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1943 play ‘Huis Clos’ (‘No Exit’) he sets up Hell as being only populated by three people. He wrote;

 “All those eyes intent on me. Devouring me. What? Only two of you? I thought there were more; many more. So this is hell. I’d never have believed it. You remember all we were told about the torture-chambers, the fire and brimstone, the “burning marl.” Old wives’ tales! There’s no need for red-hot pokers. HELL IS OTHER PEOPLE!

Source: https://www.the-philosophy.com/sartre-hell-is-other-people

Christopher Perry, 6th April, 2020