VIRUS 2020

4 December VIRUS 2020

4 December, VIRUS 2020

Global soils underpin life but future looks ‘bleak’, warns UN report. It takes thousands of years for soils to form, meaning protection is needed urgently, say scientists. The Guardian

Experts say these coming months will be a “worst-case scenario” in the US before we reach the light at the end of the tunnel. CNN

Online shopping skyrockets after record-breaking weekend.

Wyn is already inside with Chris, the estuary is bursting colour, the sea still rushing in. After a couple of widths, I tire and float, mind afloat in trees and a cloudless sky.

A small flock of cormorants splash in and float close by, heads turning in the alert, I want my camera. It’s back on shore.
This bridge has numbered days, wood to short lived for economic rationalism.

My mother and I are chatterers, lockdown is very hard on her. I chat to waiters, to cashiers, and this afternoon was floating chatting away to friends, anything and everything, whatever comes to mind, while swimming and taking some time to unfocus under the blue parabola

Here [in Sweden], small talk is seen as futile, and is referred to as kallprat (“cold talk”) or dödprat (“dead talk”). To avoid ending up in these situations, many Swedes have made an art of avoiding eye contact with strangers and acquaintances they might come across in the street by looking at their phones or staring at shopping windows instead. For Swedes, the purpose of talking is to exchange meaningful information, and engaging in purposeless chit-chat simply isn’t valued. [1]

Bello is 33, six degrees hotter, we pop in to see our friends who own the woodworking gallery. We haven’t seen them since the start of the crisis. The shop has changed, the back entrance blocked off. They have gone, no further information. Wyn drops off a picture for the summer show while I explore the smokehouse.


I check the Crested Pigeon’s nest – empty! Missed the fledgling for the second time. Notice a pair behind me, reflected in the glass, the male is courting bum in the air, bowing, tail fanned. She shows no interest. I have my glasses on them, he suddenly mounts her, falls off, tries again determined, and tail wagging gets to work, fluttering for balance. After 30 seconds he hops off and looks around. They start preening themselves, then he sidles up to her and gently preens parts of her neck she cannot reach.  Are they our nesting pair, about to go for a third clutch?
I find myself in the glass, think of my favourite self-portraits, Durer (of course) Rembrandt (of course) Turner, James Ensor, and yes there should be a woman here.

The butterflies have dwindled, an Orchard and a Blue Triangle wander through. Wyn spots a bird flying across that vanishes, has discovered a new nest hole, the bird doesn’t venture out, not sure of its identity. I popped inside and saw a shadow, wheel round, the bird went straight over Wyn’s head, a White-bellied Sea Eagle chased by a Noisy Miner, ‘that looked like a mosquito next to it,’ Wyn says.
A large mob of Black Cockatoos are wheeling over the water tower, a Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike flies along the wall of the forest. Who deserves all this?

I ask Wyn how many atoms are making her. She has no idea and I had to look it up – 7 octillion mostly atoms of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. How I love her atoms!


[1] Björn Nilsson, ‘Why Swedes don’t like chit-chat: In Sweden casual chattiness is seen as needless, since conversation is used for exchanging real, meaningful information’, BBC Travel, 4 December, 2020.

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