Friday, January 12, 2007

End of the World Diaries # 1

Change has come too quickly for us, for our health, sense of community, well-being, worst of all, change has come too quickly and been too great for our environment, for the Earth.

Here are some of the ways they have occurred.
Can you say what they are and how they affect the environment?
Think about things like energy use, quality of life, and health

A typical week in 1960: Saddleworth, England

Sunday: Dad worked in the garden today, as he does every Sunday – he works just as hard on his days off. He brings vegetables for me to cook – potatoes, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, onions, lettuce in the season, swedes, turnips, and fresh eggs from the hens.

Robert and Gillian are outside playing – I can hear them laughing, talking sometimes shouting, running up the garden path, Gillian has fallen and hurt her knee. She comes in crying a little. Soap and water will soon put that right. She soon runs out again, “Thanks, Mum!”

At twelve, Dad comes in, takes his Wellington boots off at the door and puts on his slippers, quickly washes for dinner, looks a picture of health – red faced from the wind and the exercise of digging.
“I could eat a horse,” he says to his children. “Nothing like working in the garden to sharpen your appetite.”
“Why does it sharpen your appetite, Dad?” Robert’s always asking questions.
“If you’re not active – don’t walk or run, bend and stretch, your body doesn’t burn as much fuel, you don’t feel the need for food, your appetite is dull – work whets your appetite.”

“And food makes us grow taller, doesn’t it, Daddie.” Gillian likes talking too. I bring dinner in from the kitchen. I love Sundays when we can all sit around the same table and talk, the children like it too, always asking questions and finding out things they didn’t know – I suppose they are getting an education here as well as at school.

“That was grand, love,” Dad moves his chair back from the table. The children have already finished and are asking to leave the table, they want to go out again and run and play. Kids have so much energy, they never stop.

In the afternoon, everyone gets washed and brushed and Dad banks the fire down with ashes so the house will be warm later. We are going to my mother’s house – all the family will be there – it’s a regular thing we do – the family meet, talk and well, just be together. The children meet their aunts, uncles and cousins, and their grandmother. It’s only a couple of miles across the valley – down the hill, through Farmer Hadfield’s fields, under the old railway line and along the road tem minutes or so.

We enjoy the walk, the children run on ahead and then run back to us to show us something they have found – a bird’s nest, cows lying down in the grass – it’s going to rain later.
“Dad, I’ve just seen a kestrel – over there – look!” Robert knows his birds, from that book we b ought him for his 9th birthday.
“How do you know it’s a kestrel?” Dad asks, interested.
:Because it’s hovering, .looking for mice in the field, and it’s got a brown back and spots all down its front like you get when you spill your gravy down your shirt.”
“That’s enough of that,” I say.

The afternoon is the same as always, my mother has prepared a lovely beef salad and at four we all sit down to eat. Ma makes the children eat some brown bread – they prefer white though.

The men are talking about what men talk about – work, and then politics – usually moaning about something, but laughing too, getting on with each other. Me and my sister, Jean have sided the dishes away for Ma, and she is sitting in her favourite chair by the fire.

The whole house looks lovely – children sitting at the table, playing a game with their cousins, men talking and us chatting and making sure Ma has everything she needs.

The walk back is in the rain – there are no buses and nobody has a car – taxis are out of the question – we put on our coats and hats and walk. A bit of rain never hurt anyone, did it? We say our goodbyes and we are off. It’s nice to walk after a meal, we always say, and it keeps us warm in spite of the rain and the wind that is blowing cooler now.

When we walk through the door, our noses are red with the cold, and we laugh at each other. The house is lovely and warm – the fire is still in – just and Dad throws on a bit of wood and coal and rakes back the ashes.

“Time for bed, you two,” the children are sleepy and ready to go to bed. “It’s school in the morning.”
Robert L. Fielding

Al Ain