Monday, 21 March 2016

New Shoots

Apologies for this not being posted until afternoon here in Blackpool, NW England, but both Kev and I have been battling with the gremlins affecting the router of our BT Broadband Hub - I think it is either on a work-to-rule, or on a one day strike in sympathy with the Junior Doctors.

Or perhaps Facebook/Gmail are going through one of their periodic nervous collapses necessitating endless changes to the normal routine.

As the vernal equinox was either yesterday or today (because of the leap year), New Shoots sounds most germane, and I'd like to consider how resilient the human race has to be in order never to be defeated by the most crushing and terrifying of human disasters, and how the necessary endeavours force us into being more neighbourly, and to work together towards a common triumph.

I'll begin with a poem by Gillian Clarke which I like very much indeed:


The spring was late.  We watched the sky
and studied charts for shouldering isobars.
Birds were late to pair.  Crows drank from the lamb's eye.

Over Finland small birds fell: song-thrushes                                                                      
steering north, smudged signatures on light,
migrating warblers, nightingales.

Wing-beats failed over fjords, each lung a sip of gall.
children were warned of their dangerous beauty.
Milk was spilt in Poland.  Each quarrel

the blowback from some old story,
a mouthful of bitter air from the Ukraine
brought by the wind out of its box of sorrows.

This spring a lamb sips caesium on a Welsh hill.
A child, lifting her face to drink the rain,
takes into her blood the poisoned arrow.

Now we are all neighbourly, each little town
in Europe twinned to Chernobyl, each heart
with the burnt fireman, the child on the Moscow train.

In the democracy of the virus and the toxin
we wait.  We watch for bird migrations,
one bird returning with green in its voice,

golau glas,
a first break of blue.

(c) Gillian Clarke in her Collected Poems (Carcanet 1997)
and republished with permission in The Nation's Most Treasured
Nature Poems: The Seasons Radio 4 Poetry Please f&f 2015.

For anyone unfamiliar with what happened at the Ukrainian nuclear plant at Chernobyl (at that time part of the Russian Federation) in April of 1985, there is a very detailed article about it and its worldwide effects on Wikipedia.

As with the 2011 nuclear disaster at Fukishima in Japan, at the time of Chernobyl there was general panic at the potential long-term effects on the populations of the West's developed nations, and a real fear that there would never be sight of the green shoots of recovery.

Thankfully, our resilience, the courage of so many and the ingenuity our scientists and technicians have displayed have created circumstances in which there have been new shoots and recovery is being achieved still more than 30 years after Chernobyl and five years after the Japanese disaster caused by a tsunami - Nature The Destructor has morphed into Nature the Restorative, I'm pleased to say.

Thanks for reading, and do have a Happy Easter break.

(c) C J Heyworth (Christo James)