In the past ten years or so, I’ve moved house five times and now it won’t be long until I move again. Several of those moves have involved significant downsizing and each time I’ve pruned my worldly goods a bit harder. But now as I edge into a new phase I’ve become even more ruthless. Unless an object is useful, beautiful or of genuine sentimental value, it goes. I’m trying to rid myself of delusions about what I will use, wear, read, watch or listen to in the future.
Fantasies about what we might be or do are a justification for holding onto things but so is the need to leave a trace. Without tangible reminders then there’s no proof that we ever existed. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently since Continue reading
I’m always pleased when I learn a new word and this week it was ‘murmuration’. The BBC News website has a stunning video of an estimated 70,000 starlings soaring and swooping in unison over an Oxfordshire nature reserve. It’s described as aerial ballet and the term murmuration comes from the sound of the birds’ beating wings. No-one knows for sure what triggers this phenomenon but there are probably many reasons including grouping together for safety and warmth, and for exchanging information about feeding areas.
Seeing this video reminded me of the plight of the passenger pigeon. At one time these birds were amongst the most common in North America. The skies above the prairies would turn black and blot out the sun as billions passed overhead. An account from 1855 describes people in Ohio witnessing this event. Children screamed and ran for home, horses bolted and women hurried for the shelter of shops, gathering their long skirts as they ran. Some people knelt down and prayed in fear. Then the seemingly impossible happened: Continue reading