31 January 2016

Nature - Culture Binary


I'm doing an online course on the Environmental Humanities.

Not that after three weeks of the course I could tell you what the Environmental Humanities are. I was expecting poems and site specific art installations. Instead there are 30 page pdfs by French philosophers, and videos of professors casually sitting in a student union bar discussing the 'liveliness' of water. To be fair there was one earnest young artist making nests for mice out of recycled wool jumpers, but we'll ignore him and his youthful naivety.

Overall it has been an eye-opening course that I have really enjoyed (my idea of heaven is 30 page pdfs by French philosophers). As I understand it the focus of the Environmental Humanities is to make people aware of the assumptions they hold about nature and where they place themselves within their ideas of nature.

25 January 2016

Which Nature?

When my mum introduces me to a new friend she has the problem of not having a label to easily explain me by.  I am not ‘a ...’ There is no job title to categorise me by, and the socially acceptable role of ‘looking after children’ is now not true. She sometimes overcomes the difficulty by declaring I write a blog. With this come signals of techno-mastery and holding an opinion about something. That’s loosely true. With this deft move she transfers the problem of classification to me. What is my blog about? “Nature in the urban environment” I self-importantly declare.

Generally this is all the information the friend requires to safely put me in one of the pigeon holes of her world view. No one comes back with the question, “What do you mean by ‘Nature’?” Which is fortunate because I’m not entirely sure myself.

17 January 2016

Too Early For Some

My street showing the favourite perch of our resident blackbird

I thought I had finished with the school run. Both children have fledged the nest. However, the eldest hasn't quite developed her flight feathers, so I drive her to work in the morning. The school run has become the work run.

It is not too much of a bother. At least I have the satisfaction of being useful to someone. The other bonus is being outside as the sun rises. I had forgotten, or maybe hadn't fully acknowledged, that the Dawn Chorus also happens in the winter. While I'm de-frosting the car, and the eldest is applying her make-up in the front seat, blackbirds and robins are shouting their little hearts out. It's a magical start to the day. Well, I think so, the eldest disagrees.

Let's give some thought to this. Why are the birds singing in the cold, when presumably food sources are still scarce, and the joys of spring are yet a couple of months away?

9 January 2016

Lichens Teach A Life Lesson

Happy New Year! May the coming year bring you sunshine and a warm wind.

[Sorry about the big paragraphs in this post. It's just how it turned out]

Between Christmas and New Year this year we made a quick visit to the Lake District, staying in the Three Shires Inn in Little Langdale. We have been there a few times because it has an open fire, serves a superb apple crumble, and is ideal for the amateur hiker because you can start walking as soon as you leave the front door. Minutes after polishing off a Full English you can be slogging your way up the fells, without a building or car in sight.