08 April 2024

Shifting baselines is the idea that each successive generation will accept as “normal” an increasingly degraded and disorganized ecology, until at some point in the future, no one will remember what a healthy ecology looks and feels like. Absent any personal or societal accounting of migrating butterflies, winter snowfall, or spawning salmon, future generations will have tolerated so many small losses in population, abundance, and habitat that eventually they won’t know what they’re missing. Worse, they may not even care. 

Heidi Lasher

The last couple of days have been the hottest April days ever recorded here. I know it will get cooler again, more "normal", but this weird summer is confusing. Of course, it's wonderful in a way. Yesterday, I spent the afternoon on a deckchair reading and dozing until the ants began to become bothersome. The smell of various neighbourhood BBQ was in the air and it looked sort of benign. But there is a strange batch of hover flies living under the patio steps. I try to disturb them before they nest and find their way inside. I have never done this with hover flies and the usual approach, the one I fine tuned with the ants, does not seem to be effective. It doesn't help that I just finished a dystopian novel that featured unusual insect appearances as a side story. 

I also made the grave mistake of stopping at the Italian ice cream place down the road when we went for our Sunday constitutional along the river. I had a delicious scoop of Biscoff ice cream and tasted some of R's selection. This is the reason why I am sat here, close to midnight, with a heating pad on my abdomen, waiting for the pain to subside.

Here's a lovely bit of traditional Irish music, not of the fiddly diddly, jumpy Aran sweater type, but the stuff that made me sit up and listen so many years ago.


I could explain now what I have learned about sean-nós singing and how this tradition lives on. I could tell you about the Irish composer Seán Ó Riada, who collected and preserved Irish music. I could also write about the village of Ballyvourney where he lived after retirement and died longe before I ever knew about him and how you have to walk up that steep hillside to get to it, which I did many times to visit friends who had decided to live off the grid there with a newborn baby (it didn't last, thank goodness). I won't go into it, but only this: the voice here is of Iarla Ó Lionáird, musician and ethnomusic researcher, when he was ten or maybe 14 years old - sources differ.

I haven't been back to Ireland in years now. Occasionally, we talk about moving back there what with Putin so close and the fascist party gaining strength in some parts of Germany and their threats of reversing all emigration and getting rid of foreigners but then we say, why leave it to them, why walk away. Anyway, only talking.


am said...

Thank goodness for heating pads and music and all can connect us and get us through the midnights of this troubled world.

Thank you for the link to Heidi Lasher's Substack.

Colette said...

So many good people are leaving Florida now. It makes me sad, because when they leave that means fewer votes for goodness and light.

Ms. Moon said...

I can only imagine that if the very worst happens in this next US election, many people will be moving out of the country.

Pixie said...

The world is a mess. We have shit in our next for so long, we have forgotten when a clean nest looks like.

The Irish music is lovely. My grandmother was from Ireland, County Cork and I still have a cousin there, only one, although there are probably many more 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousins.

Take care.

ellen abbott said...

the entire world is going to hell in a handbasket. war rearing it's ugly head, fascists and authoritarians on the rise which I just don't understand why anyone thinks that is a good thing. over hear I fluctuate from despair to confidence that Trump/MAGAts will be defeated.

last summer was horrendous here, hottest on record and this year with El Nina they are predicting at least 4 major storms that get bigger and more intense every year headed straight for the Gulf Coast and us. I'm worried about the 60+ year old water oak next to the house. The tree is enormous.

so sorry that pain is the result of enjoying ice cream.

Steve Reed said...

It seems like most places are struggling with their own brand of crazy. I doubt that Ireland is without a similar right-wing fringe element.

Roderick Robinson said...

Interesting that music. In the instrumental intro he makes creative use of gaps - simply missing out notes musical instinct tells you should be there. You can, if you wish, fill in these notes mentally, or experience the unexpected tension the omissions create. A first for me but then I'm a dumb ass when it comes to folk.

As to moving west would Ireland be far enough west? But as you say, "only talking". Like you I find myself re-adjusted through illness. Given to speculation, a tendency reinforced by my much greater age. Should one attempt to plan or let things flow? What, if anything, constitutes "wasted" time? Will I be able - as in the past - to continue ignoring those malign forces abroad in my body? How is it, given one of the ops centred on my mouth, that the timbre of my singing voice has not only been maintained but has even improved?

Rehearsing Song 6 (Die Neugierige) in the Schöne Müllerin cycle, I came upon the line:

Ich bin ja auch kein Gärtner.." And was exalted. Supported in my antipathies by none other than The Great Franz! I trust you too have retained an ability to be surprised.

jozien said...

I Sabine, I always enjoy reading your post, and this one is no exception. One question, what did not last for the new born, i guess he grew up no longer a baby, but i assume that is not what you mean. But! what i a came here for was if you wrote about thes old ladies in Switzerland that one a courtcase, climate change related... Did you write about it? maybe previous posts?

37paddington said...

I have never been to Ireland. It is on my bucket list of places to visit.

Sabine said...

Jozien, yes that decision is somewhat uplifting. It is likely to have an impact far beyond Switzerland. For the first time, a court has established that climate protection is a human right and thus, climate protection organisations can sue for it. Conversely, governments are committing human rights violations if they neglect climate protection too much.
If anything, this will enable many other court cases that are already being prepared which will increase the pressure on governments to act. In the EU, governments that fail to enact the agreed climate goals will be fined, massively, anyway. There is a good overview of the implications in this short podcast by the Guardian science team: https://www.theguardian.com/science/audio/2024/apr/11/the-senior-swiss-women-who-went-to-court-over-climate-change-and-won-podcast

Sabine said...

Roderick, that piano was played by the singer, aged 12 or so. He is now very famous in Ireland for his research into traditional (not folk) music. That research is akin to research into the Irish language, it's called ethnomusicology.

The far right movement has arrived in Ireland from the US (where most of the finance for the various campaigns comes from) with a delay of about two to three years. It's finding it difficult to get a foothold, there are of course the usual issues of too many foreigners and immigration, which is somewhat difficult in a country that has such a large diaspora worldwide. The issues of anti-abortion and anti-gender etc. are also hard to get across as well in a country that has only recently voted for very liberal, open legislation in two referendums and with enormous public backing.
But the main underlying issue that - so far- seems to stand against a big right wing agenda is Irish history itself. In Ireland being a "nationalist" still implies the fight against colonisation and suppression by you know who. Waving an Irish flag is still a symbol of liberation and freedom. Time will tell.