I am off to Norway next week to visit my daughter who is studying at Bergen University this semester. I can’t wait to see her but I’m feeling guilty. Guilty because I will be flying. Flying is a serious contributor to climate change. We really shouldn’t be flying anywhere at all anymore. With the XR protests taking place in London at the moment, my guilt is exacerbated. I should be there; fighting for climate justice, fighting for the future of our society, fighting for the future of my children. But I’m not in London. I’m at home; planning for my trip and getting excited about it.
In my entire lifetime, this will be my eighth trip away on a plane. Sixteen journeys in total, so I can hardly be called a big flyer. I’m aware there are celebrities, businessmen and politicians who hop on and off aeroplanes like they are buses. I am basically vegan; one of the best changes you can make to help prevent climate change is to eat less, or in my case no, meat and dairy. (I do eat my rescued battery hens’ eggs.) I have planted over sixty new trees around my smallholding; trees soak up carbon dioxide and are a natural solution to mitigate climate change. I’m trying in my small way to make changes. However, with the climate crisis in full swing, this doesn’t make me feel any easier about the situation. I’m still going to fly so I can visit my daughter.
Recently, I went on the Global Climate Strike to support the school children and students campaigning for change in our society’s systems. It was an inspiring day; full of warmth, positivity and love. Marching along in Aberystwyth, I found it hard to believe there could be any climate deniers left. The science is clear. As Greta Thunberg states, we can’t ignore it. I felt proud to stand with those young people and their hopefulness. I was brought to tears by their bravery. Just as I am brought to tears when I see the videos of the people in XR; lying in the streets, gluing themselves to buildings, risking arrest.
There aren’t really any realistic options for me to get to Bergen without flying, not with the timescale and budget that I have. Maybe one day, there will be. When the government has listened. When the necessary funding has been put into alternative, renewable technologies. When the greedy, gas guzzling corporations have had their day. In the meantime, I say a big thank you to those school children, students and people of XR. They are our representatives; my love and support goes out to every single one of them.
To sit on a World War II gun battery,
crumbling tumble-down shelter to shaggy sheep,
symbol of war, hate and death.
To watch the early summer sun sinking
behind bold distant hills,
spilling fiery colour across clouds.
To listen to the last birdsong of evening,
eerie calls of pheasant hiding in wavy grass,
maniacal cries of horned beasts.
To see that blazing ball of flame
drip amber, pink and gold upon the settled sea.
To experience a moment of peace
removed from this world of madness, fear and sorrow.
we exist now, at this time,
we are here.
With an enormous workload of assignments to complete for a work qualification (the biggest reason for my near silence on this blog at the moment), I still find time to sit and play with collage.
Image: Bristol Street Art from BBC
A couple of years ago, someone laughed at me for saying I was worried about Boris Johnson. He’s finished, they said, just a big joke. I thought they were being naive. There is nothing funny about Boris Johnson. He is deadly serious – a scheming individual with no moral compass or integrity. He has long hankered for the top spot and plotted his way there with cunning.
Boris Johnson has no ideas, or beliefs, or plans for the future, or for the benefit of the UK. He will say or do whatever he thinks is necessary to gain power. Obvious comparisons have been drawn with President Trump – the wild, straw-like mop of hair, the offensive language used in the name of ‘speaking one’s mind’, the populist rhetoric. The similarity is a big concern – both men are divisive politicians. I have long felt sympathy for my friends in the US, suffering from the embarrassment and hatred caused by their leader.
Unfortunately, it looks more and more certain Boris Johnson will achieve his ambition and become our Prime Minister. And that is not amusing at all.
To bring a tear to someone’s eye, with your voice.
To touch a person, make them cry, with a song.
That must matter, I can’t deny, it’s power.
There is something special about growing your own food. Gently planting a seed in rich, damp compost, waiting patiently for signs of green shoots pushing up through dark earth, planting out seedlings in neat rows of raked soil, watching the plants grow tall and vigorous, picking fresh vegetables for the evening meal, from garden to pot in minutes, is a kind of magic.
Sometimes, there are frustrations. Seeds rot in the ground, slugs feast on tender blooms, caterpillars attack glossy leaves, backs twinge, muscles ache, nails break and hands become dirt-ingrained, but it is satisfying work, good for body and mind. The clean air breathed in under wide skies, the smell of warm earth, the feel of fingers dug deep in crumbly dirt, the calming buzz of insects and soulful song of birds, the sense of well-being and pride growing brings. It is a connection with the land, a sustaining of life, something fundamental, something ancient.
Many of us have lost that connection, the opportunity to support ourselves, even in a small way, with home-grown food. If there were more gardens and growing spaces in our cities, towns and communities, we would be healthier and happier. Our diets are better, our appreciation of food far greater, when we grow it ourselves. Growing vegetables means being outside, exercising our bodies and working with purpose. The effort is rewarded with vegetables that taste wonderful, like nothing we can buy in supermarkets. Serving up Sunday lunch with three types of vegetables from your own garden is a feeling that is hard to beat.
Trudge breathless up boggy slopes,
squelching puddles pool under rubber heels.
Reach glorious heights of heather,
illuminated blankets in bright sunshine.
Beneath ancient sculpted rock,
rest on tumbled stone touched by pagan hand.
Warm breeze lifting hair from damp skin,
gaze on a patchwork as clouds cast ink blots.
There he goes, my beautiful son.
Bone china skin, hair afire.
Fragility worn in cool style.
Brief nod at my frantic goodbye.
A pang of love explodes my chest.
Your face on the pillow in early morning light,
touched by sleep’s youthful kiss.
Crow’s feet, which tell of love, laughter, loss,
wiped from the corners of your lids.
And I watch in silence,
afraid to stir and wake you from this contented bliss.
And I listen in silence,
afraid to disturb your relaxed breath, leaving your body at ease.
Soon the busy day will shake you awake,
deepen the creases on your brow with worldly concerns.
Your face on the pillow in early morning light,
And I am enveloped in your peace.
My husband has decided to keep a pet caterpillar. It is disconcerting to see it sleeping under his nose as we have a conversation. When we kiss, it wriggles and prickles in discomfort. A top lip is not the best home for a caterpillar. One day, it may move on, find an appropriate place to live, crawl under a damp cabbage leaf. Or perhaps it will spin itself a silky cocoon, grow beautiful wings and flutter away.