preserving ruins in a ruinous time…
January 3rd: Despite a heavy cold, the brilliant morning sun, rare these last few weeks, was too inviting for me to resist going out for a walk around my neighbourhood. My photo today is of part of the Roman wall at Pevensey Castle. You’ll notice that there’s plenty of ivy growing on the wall at the moment, and that’s repeated at many points around Pevensey Castle. The ivy has grown tremendously in recent years as maintenance work on the castle by English Heritage has obviously been reduced, probably to save on costs as budgets for such organisations get ever more relentlessly squeezed by government austerity policies. There’s certainly a lot more ivy on the walls of the castle now compared with what was there when I first moved into the area about 17 years ago. But that’s a good thing in my view, as ivy is such a tremendous source of pollen and nectar for honeybees, especially in the autumn and early winter of each year. Goodness knows that honeybees need all the help they can get to survive these days as ever more of their habitats disappear! The ivy also adds a lot to the ‘romanticism’ that is part of the charm of ancient ruins and which was partly responsible for the 19th century movement to make such ruins regarded as so important to our national heritage that they needed expert restoration and preservation.
Talking of preservation, I watched an excellent video interview today in which climate scientist Michael Mann talked about the possibly huge negative impacts of a Trump presidency upon global efforts to preserve a stable enough climate system for human habitation. Mann has shown huge courage and determination in his attempts to highlight the science behind climate change, despite massive threats and intimidation directed against him by the climate deniers at all levels, including from within the US Congress. This kind of speaking truth to power is always inspiring but never more essential than now.
The best piece of writing I came across today was a post by Charlotte Du Cann from the excellent The Dark Mountain Project. The post was especially poignant as it chimed with so many of my own feelings as I walk the country lanes of my neighbourhood whilst contemplating the existential crisis we are all in. This quote from her post is something that could have fitted in easily with any of my cogitations on my recent walks, if I’d only been clever and wise enough to be as eloquent as Charlotte:
In spite of everything, I realised I wanted to go home to the lane. Though the Empire will keep telling me I do not belong, I know that I do. And no kind of politics will take that relationship away. I am not going anywhere else. I am not a nationalist, a flag waver, a patriot, I don’t know what ‘British values’ are, I can’t tell you the names of any football players or newscasters or the kinds of questions aspiring UK citizens are tested on. But I can love this place, these marsh birds, these oaks. I can cohere in a fragmenting time, I can remember in a forgetting time. We don’t need a grand vision, another story right now, we need to get through the nigredo, the seismic shaking of the jar, and allow the seeds we hold inside us to break open their coats.
In the winter sun, along a country lane,
All seems to cohere, to harmonise within nature’s song.
Yet what seems, seems also to jar with what is known,
with what is to come, with the gathering storms…