Sunday, 24 March 2019

For You Everyman




Dear Reader,

I am sharing with you some entries which I thought were interesting especially as our weather is so strange these days.

March 21st, 1762,  Richard Hayes in Kent:

This day I saw a yellow butterfly......My rooks, by the cold weather and snows, did not begin building till last Sunday.

 March 21, 1798, Dorothy Wordsworth in Somerset

We drank tea at Coleridge's.  A quiet shower of snow was in the air during more than half of our walk.

March 24th, 1872, Francis Kilvert in Radnorshire

A snowy Palm Sunday on the Palms....I saw what I thought was a long dazzling white and golden cloud up in the sky.  Suddenly I found that I had been gazing at the great snow slopes of the Black Mountain lit up by the setting sun and looking through the dark storm clouds.

                                                                       *
The newspaper I read tells me that we are now in for a warmer and sunnier spell of weather.  The birds seems to have started to make their nests.  I see the blackbird is getting moss from the lawn and picking up twigs so spring really has arrived.

                                                                        *





For You, Everyman

My smile is for you.
Yes, you, the man on the omnibus,
You, the woman in the crowd,
You, the small child, playing in the dust,
You, the homeless, the tramp unbowed,
You, in the business suit, you in Kaftan,
You, the tall, you, the short,

Yes, You, Everyman.

The exchanged smile
acknowledges shared humanity
in this fleeting recognition.
No words needed.

                                                                          *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Miracle



Dear Reader,

Swallows spend the winter in Africa before beginning to arrive on our shores between April and May- bringing the first glimpse of summer.  Migrating swallows can cover some 200 miles a day, flying at average speeds of 17-22 mph.  Britain is 2,500 miles from say Senegal (where they gather in the winter) so with a fair wind they might complete the journey in less than a fortnight. But the question is what welcomes them to our shores?   Tesco supermarket has, apparently, installed netting to stop swallows nesting in the roof of its trolley station where the birds reared their young last year.
There have been several such examples of netting at bird nesting sites elsewhere in the country in recent weeks.

Swallows and other migrating birds who fly here with the arrival of warmer weather are in steep decline.  Habitat loss, climate change and the decline of the insects upon which they rely are wreaking havoc.   The swallows come all this way, take this long and perilous journey to arrive with us, hoping for a welcome, and what do they get?  Lets hope Tesco's is the only supermarket to install
nets to stop swallows nesting.

                                                                              *

A few things you might not know about swallows.  In the past it was believed that harming swallows would bring bad luck.  And in the north of England, up until the 1960s they believed that killing a swallow would lead to cows producing bloody milk or no milk at all.

Male swallows have a dark side as they go to extreme efforts to ensure that their genes are passed on to the next generation.  Males without a mate will often visit the nest of other swallows to associate themselves with a female already paired.  However, the majority of the time the only way a female will accept a new mate is if their current mate dies or if the nest fails, thereby 'divorcing' the established pair.  

                                                                           *

Miracle

Rich in England's spring
cowparsley entrancing
in dog-rose hedge,
the fecund earth lush green,
a baby swallow
hatches in a Suffolk barn,
to the cries of gulls
flying over mudflats,
over sea-lavender.

This small bird grows
embracing our summer warmth,
swooping on insects caught
above rolling grasslands.
It dips and tumbles gracefully,
trouble-free.

But what instinct tells of winter's cold?
This bird, hand-sized, will
fly over icy Pyrenees,
thirst through the parched Sahara,
soar and glide on trade winds,
south to the Cape of Africa
drawn, inexplicably, to the heat
of the southern sun.

In early spring does
this swallow's courageous heart
grow restless, homesick for
a Suffolk barn?
Is it a miracle that some force
of nature returns this minute bird
to its birth-nest by the English sea?
Who knows, but it seems so to me.

                                                                            *

With very best wishes, Patricia

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Letter to India after the British Raj disgrace




Dear Reader,

You may have watched 'The Jewel in the Crown" series on TV years ago. You may have felt   incensed, as I did, at the way that British people treated the Indian population,   Obviously it is not a true picture of the way things were, but true enough I would think to show us, in the main, the appalling way the native Indians were treated.

For those of you who don't know the history of the British Raj here are a few lines about a very long and complicated story and I apologise for making it so brief.

The British Raj refers to the period of British rule on the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947.  The system of  governance was instituted in 1858 when the rule of the East India Company was transferred to the Crown in the person of Queen Victoria who, in 1876, was proclaimed Empress of India.

India was called the "Jewel in the Crown" because it had so much wealth in the form of spices, textiles, cotton and opium.  The British bought opium to sell in China to enable them to buy tea.  In August, 1947, the British left after three hundred years in India and the subcontinent was partitioned into two independent states: Hindu majority, India, and Muslim majority, Pakistan.


                                                                           *

Letter to India after the British Raj disgrace

Dear India,

Forgive us as
we marched into your country,
forced our laws
our customs upon you,
were arrogant and superior,
destroyed your traditions,
treated you badly,
spoke to your people rudely,
lacked compassion,
and felt disdain for anyone
with a brown skin.

For these many sins
and others I know nothing of,
dear India, forgive us
forgive us please.

with very best wishes,
Patricia

                                                                        *
and very best wishes to you, my friends,
Patricia

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Word-dancing




Dear Reader,

The stripes on zebras are long thought of as a form of  camouflage, but now another explanation has been found.  So instead of baffling lions and leopards the stripes may be a way of keeping a much smaller, but no less bloodthirsty, creature at bay.  It is thought that biting insects could be dazzled as they try to land on the animals.  Scientists found that horse flies gathered around domestic horses and zebras at a similar rate- but landed on zebras only 25 per cent as often.

When uniformly-coloured horses were given 'zebra coats' flies made far fewer landings.  Video footage showed that flies confronted with stripes came in too fast, often crashing into their prey or missing the landing altogether.  This indicates that stripes may disrupt the flies' abilities to have a controlled landing.  Theories about the striped purpose include camouflage, a means of confusing predators or signalling to other zebras, and a system of heat control.

                                                                        *
                                                                             
Francis and I had our first dancing lesson this week and it was great fun.  We have taken up dancing again but don't really know the steps of traditional dances.  As we couldn't join in with an experienced group,  we wanted to learn the steps with a teacher and then will be able to do so.  I would advise anyone who wants a little exercise and amusement to give dancing a try.

                                                                         *

Word-dancing

The woman discovers the double act
of word-dancing at dinner,
recognizes with excitement
mutual friends from books, from poetry,
from worlds explored, but only
known thus far in solitude.

Together they dance through imagined lands
sharing knowledge,
throwing words back and forth
in light ethereal movements,
cerebral binding and bonding,
now the foxtrot, now the waltz.

For her these pleasures
are found at lunch parties, at dinner,
in libraries, on courses.
But where can the young word-dance?
Her grandson lunches on the run,
dines with Eastenders,
goes clubbing on solitary trips
too noisy, frightening, for word-dancing,
for cerebral binding and bonding,
now the foxtrot, now the waltz.

                                                                  *

With best wishes, Patricia