16 April, VIRUS 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has infected over two million people, with more than 130,000 dying from the disease globally. Guardian

For many in Australia, the bushfire catastrophe now seems a distant memory as the coronavirus pandemic takes this country deeper into the unknown. BBC

Tracking the sun, two images from a timelapse sequence

Wyn with fruits of her labour, heading to the compost bins

The gleam of light maps the sun’s trajectory through the forest. When bright enough we are in the garden. It’s pruning season, never my favourite activity I am too gentle – Wyn buries herself in it.

Elkhorn

We split off 8 Elkhorns from a thick old cluster neighbours gave us, so look for trees in the garden that don’t lose their bark. The beautiful fern is an epiphyte growing on trees.

  ~

Wyn bought some mince yesterday, unavailable for weeks (and still no toilet paper). I was making lunch, Shepherd’s Pie, my generic term, Cottage Pie if you like, shaking a bottle of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce into the cooked mince, garlic, carrots and onions when . . .

the English aroma transported me to Saltford and a Georgian manor house, a squat I had started living in. When it came to my turn to cook, I had no idea how to cater for forty people. Kris said, well what can you cook. Shepherd’s Pie. So, all you do is multiply the normal amounts, simple.

5 miles from Bath and seven miles from Bristol,
with a good garden wall around, and walls well covered
with choice fruit trees and full bearing and about 18 acres
of grass lands and adjoining to and surrounding same, with
a coach house, a four stall stable, a cow house and other
convenient requisites for a country residence.

The squat Georgian house has a short driveway and gatehouse
sits inside the old village, a time capsule of explicit grey stone,
honeycombed, resisting the centrifuge with winding lanes,
small gates and rights of way. Obsolete circular directions
take you to the river Avon, our swimming pool.

The updated tax on windows is evident
by bricked up windows on the top floor,                                Scratched onto
servants quarters reached by dangerous stairs,                   a surviving  pane                                                                                                                                              J Blisset,  31st December 1807

Woad was grown here. It too was taxed
as were trees.

The huge house is impossible to heat
with the price of oil and wages of the unemployed.
We search the wild orchard for feral vegies, it’s cover
inflated with mint and comfrey. The fruit is spent.
We keep some chickens, and talk of goats.

And as soon as I had recognised the taste of the piece of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-blossom which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like a stage set to attach itself to the little pavilion opening on to the garden . . . Proust[1]

Smell is an ancient sense buried deep in the brain, bypassing the thalamus which relays motor and sensory signals to the cerebral cortex. Instead, it works directly on the hippocampus and amygdala which provide emotional memory. Sensory experience can suddenly trigger involuntary memories, excavating hidden memories with powerful emotional content.

I have no idea what a madeleine is or looks like, but the point of Proust’s passage is truthfulness of memory, often/usually unreliable, because created each time it is accessed. Investigating the truth I came upon some disturbing news:

What Proust’s passage suggests is that the madeleine should kind of disintegrate a little bit in the tea . .  . I made some madeleines. I left them outside for three, four days, and I tried to dip them and I still got very few crumbs. So my shocking conclusion is that Proust’s madeleine could not have existed. Edmund Levin [2]

In an early version he dips a piece of dry toast in tea. Proust probably remembered toast.

  ~

We eat on the top deck, a kookaburra flies in, sits and stares looking for a chance to steal our meals mid-conversation. Someone must be feeding them, not a good idea.

Kookaburra pretending not to watch us eating on the deck

  ~

A late email:

Greetings all,

URGENT! Please sign this petition. We need LOTS of signatures to get through to Gladys, in a hurry!
Nambucca State Forest is being logged NOW!

Can you sign the petition calling on Premier Berejiklian to urgently pause logging in areas where koalas may live?

I have already signed the petition, but they are ignored. I feel real anger with Nambucca Valley Council and with Melinda Pavey (our member for Oxley) and the whole National Party, the Coalition and the Federal Government. So shortsighted, so ignorant of the losses we have just endured up here with the fires. And now our local State Forest is being ripped up.

What’s the bloody point of going to council meetings and chairing a working group to organise a Koala Action Day (KAD) [to help council meet its obligations]. See my post This bushfire crisis.

 

[1] Proust started writing his autobiographical novel after his mother passed away in 1905. In 1909 he experienced that famous jolt of memory. Swann’s Way was completed in 1912 and is the first book of ‘In Search of Lost Time’ (A la recherche du temps perdu, 1913-1927). Proust died in 1922.

[2] https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4648185