Sunday, June 20, 2010

The human becomes inhuman.

There are fewer and fewer reports of ghosts lately. This is probably due, in large part, to the weather. A few days from Midsummer and I have plants dying of the cold, so anyone who wants to claim the world is warming had better brace themselves. I'm likely to get vociferous.

In the cold, staying out all night on the off-chance of getting a result is not an appealing prospect. Few are willing to shiver, only to find the scratching sounds they recorded were a mouse or rat, the 'voice' was just the wind and the lights were some reflective surface a mile or so away. Good results are rare and take persistence and it's hard to be persistent when you can't feel your fingers. No wonder so many take solace in those out-of-focus dust particles and mice in the walls.

There is also the matter of the economic state of the country which is such that homeless people are richer than the government. They might have nothing but at least they don't owe more money than exists. Many people are in constant fear of losing their jobs and their homes. Distracted people with heads full of worries rarely see the lamppost they are about to walk into, never mind a ghost.

Plenty of reason, then, for the general public to ignore hauntings or any attempt at communication by a spirit. This does not explain the cries of 'Photoshop!' as soon as any photo appears. No investigation, no study of the image, just shout 'Photoshop!' and the debunking is considered done. Yes, in many cases, it is Photoshop but these can be spotted. Images dating from before Photoshop are not so easily dismissed, yet the cry is the same. Even nature photos, dramatic pictures of an eagle in flight, say, are met with this cry. Why so cynical?

This might be the reason.

People don't interact with nature any more. When they ignore the normal, how can we expect them to pay any attention to the paranormal? If they don't believe a photographer who captures images of an eagle taking a bird in flight, they certainly will not believe an image of someone who's dead.

I have a mouse in my garden. I have mentioned this to people locally and they are horrified. They want me to kill it. I refuse because it's not doing me any harm. If it was in the house, chewing electrical wiring and eating holes in food packets it would be a different matter. It's not. It's in the garden, where, as far as I am concerned, it has a perfect right to be.

As do the bumble-bees who have set up home in my compost bin. I have been told I must kill them in case they sting someone. They won't sting anyone unless they are threatened. Bumble-bees are not vicious, not like wasps (who are top of the kill list, even above slugs). I have fruit trees. Bumble-bees are welcome. I can tolerate not using the compost bin for a year. Bumble-bees only live one year, then they produce queens and males who leave and mate. The males die, the queens hibernate and all of the original colony dies. So I'll get my compost bin back at the end of the year and in the meantime, my plum and apple trees are already showing the beginnings of fruit.

Against a six-foot fence stands some bamboo. This has surprised me by surviving several winters including this last one, which seems to have not quite left yet. I pulled it back to paint the fence but let go quickly. On top of the fence post, behind the bamboo, is a blackbirds' nest. They've probably finished with it already but I'll leave it there for now, just in case. It'll be the cheeky blackbird who has often faced me down (and lost) for ownership of the garden. He's almost a pet, that one. I've noticed a couple of young ones about lately, along with young sparrows by the dozen and a load of tiny bluetits who seem to fly like hummingbirds. There are regular visits from a robin, some wrens, three wood-pigeons, starlings and a host of others.

I haven't seen a heron this year but that'll be because I filled in the dead pond. Not that they ever managed to get any fish after the first time. I installed a net. I have nothing against herons but there are two rivers nearby. They can fish there.

I wonder how many could even name these birds now? How many would eat apples from a tree? How many recognise any kind of fruit if it's hanging from a branch? I know of several local public paths where blackberries and raspberries grow wild. Nobody seems to touch them. That's fine by me, I can get a few pounds of free fruit every year.

There was a time when you had to compete. You had to watch the wild fruit until it ripened, knowing others were watching too, then it was a race to get it. You also had to pick out the insect grubs before consumption even though it didn't really matter too much because they aren't poisonous. We don't have many dangerous animals in the UK as long as you know what you're picking up.

These days, hardly anyone bothers. I've seen such fruit rotted on the plant. I've seen woodland floors strewn with hazelnuts and crabapples. What I never see any more, as the author of that article says, are children turning over logs to find lizards or picking hazelnuts or setting up a makeshift camp or building a mud dam across a stream or even climbing trees. Health and Safety forbids it all. As children, we would not have listened.

Modern children would probably not listen either but their parents are brainwashed into believing that there's a paedophile on every street corner and that anything not cellophane-wrapped is deadly. Children in this country are developing rickets - rickets! - because they are not getting outside any more. They are becoming obese and every official idiot is demanding something be done but in the old days, when we ignored the official idiots, children weren't fat. Well, a few were, but genetics could account for that. Most of us were active and fairly slim.

We ate gooseberries and blackcurrants off the bush. We climbed for crabapples and nuts. We came home covered in mud with jars of lizards or tadpoles to keep as pets. My father once set up an old tin bath in the backyard, filled it with water and stones and we watched the tadpoles grow into frogs. I once came home with a toad who lived in our back garden for a while and kept the slugs under control. There's a hedgehog who patrols my garden now and performs much the same purpose. You don't have to control nature. You just have to let it control itself. It's been doing the job for a very long time and it doesn't need our help.

In the modern world, if it hasn't been sanitised by a supermarket, people won't eat it. They want it on a plastic tray or they don't believe it's food. It also has to be guaranteed to be free of any of those 'dangerous' bacteria that are easily killed by proper cooking because they are too lazy for proper cooking.

People have disconnected from the natural world. They don't even believe in the natural so how will they cope with the supernatural? There's only one way to cope - to dismiss it entirely. If they insist that a photo of an eagle catching its prey is Photoshopped, then how can they possibly accept what cannot be so readily seen?

When people lived on the land and were among nature every day, the paranormal was accepted as normal. Now people live in concrete and plastic and the paranormal is an entertainment show on late-night TV, with some pretend psychics and pretend hauntings to tittilate the masses.

Who is right? Those who were in tune with the real world, or those who aren't?


Southern Writer said...

I love your garden. You described it so well, I felt I was there.

I've been spending a lot more time outside this summer. I have a new hammock, and lying out there on it with a book, just looking up at the tree limbs overhead, and the blue sky, is h-e-a-v-e-n. I can't remember the last time I felt so relaxed. I spend way too much time on the computer, and not nearly enough time outside.

Romulus Crowe said...

We have daily rain here. It feels odd, going out in the rain to water the plants in the greenhouse.

I prefer to sit out at night and watch the bats, but the rain makes that impossible. I hope the summer improves before it's over.

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