15 May 2019

bronze fennel
With the way things are, I do believe we have to stop hiding from the facts and act our age and wisdom.  On most days at least. So yes, there are catastrophic events unfolding, huge damage, devastation, whatever we want to call it. But that has been going for a while, let's not pretend we were all in the dark. 
I for one have had enough of trying to avoid the issue. And I don't have enough words. 
Hence. The plan. Once a week or so I'll post a snippet, a quote, a fact, an opinion, whatever, that I find uplifting, comforting, scarily true, helpful or just correct. 
And to keep my feet on the ground, also something that is sad and devastating or plain stupid but needs to be shared. In my humble opinion.

Here we go.
The uplifting bit:

From an interview with novelist Richard Powers:
Think of all the things that give delight, and purpose, and meaning, to a person inside this individualist, exceptionalist, commodity-driven culture. Take them all away, with a kind of annihilating despair. And then start to replace them with certain things that seem terribly small at first, like the realisation that life will continue in the face of anything that humans can throw at it. Imagine a life where humans were still here – this astonishing thing that natural selection comes up with after four and a half billion years of tinkering, called awareness, consciousness – and say that too could be an integral component of the relentless, ubiquitous exploration of life as it postulates what can work here on Earth. If you can start thinking of us not as lords and masters, but as a kind of singular possessor of something that life is after, that can be put to the service of understanding, revelling in and promoting rich, stable ecosystems, then that is the first component of a dream of human habitation on Earth that would be full of meaning, that wouldn’t be at war with everything else that is alive.

The full interview is available on Dark Mountain, a cultural online and print journal that traces the deep cultural roots of the mess the world is in. 

The sad - almost laughable bit:

From journalist Sarah Miller checking out - undercover - real estate in Miami:
“The scientists, economists, and environmentalists that are saying this stuff, they don’t realize what a wealthy area this is.” She said that she lived here and wasn’t leaving, and that the people selling Miami were confident, and all working on the same goal as a community to maintain this place, with the pumps and the zoning and raising the streets. There were just too many millionaires and billionaires here for a disaster on a great scale to be allowed to take place. 
The full article is here.

The bronze fennel in the picture above comes back year after year in our little herb garden. We bought it on a very hot July Sunday in 2009 at the Columbia Road flower market in East London. Two days earlier, the British health authorities had decided to stop quarantining people with signs of the H1N1/swine flu infection, there were simply too many affected or suspected people. I still see my sweaty hands holding onto the handrail of a packed London bus, reading the posters on hand hygiene on the bus stop walls.
Four days later, I woke with a high temperature and joint pain that lasted for a week. While my family was convinced that I had brought the flu back from London, the tests put me in the clear. Instead - and it took five hard months of exhaustion to reach a diagnosis - whatever virus hit me that time, it triggered the rare chronic disease that has become part of my life. 
But believe me, the fennel is not to blame. It's a glorious plant.


  1. Miami- some of the richest and the poorest live there. The rich won't believe that their precious and beautiful and priceless homes and possessions can be taken from them by the sea until it happens and the poor? Well, they always knew that anything can happen any time.
    But all will be losing their homes.

  2. Brilliant post with that heart-jerk at the end ---

  3. I like the scientific view of life, and our being just a part of the whole. May we each deal with our small shares with resolute humor.

  4. O my goodness! Shadows And Light -- a sad offering together with the offering of an extraordinary interview with Richard Powers. And the story of the bronze fennel that has accompanied you through all your life changes since 2009. An open mind and open heart signal the end of denial and no easy answers.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty_7d-qwYxs (it cuts off abruptly but until then ...)

    The trees of my childhood were the redwoods in the Santa Cruz mountains where Richard Powers had his epiphany. No surprise to me when trees talked and walked in Tolkien's "Fellowship of the Ring" -- that they cared, that they put their lives on the line during a time of devastation.

  5. I don't know that human beings have the capacity to live in peace with each other and the planet as a whole.

    This might sound silly but I'm glad you haven't had to deal with wegeners-granulomatosis your whole life but I'm also sure that these past ten years have felt like a lifetime.

  6. Yeah - hurricanes and such avoid rich folks. Jesus.

    Five months is a long time to wait for a diagnosis.

  7. I look forward to this new weekly effort, the good and the bad of it. I still can't quite absorb the cruel randomness of this virus triggering your disease.

  8. too many rich people for a disaster to happen? it might be fitting for them to have to spend their amassed fortunes to lift the city, an American Venice, only to have it continue to sink.