Materials of life


It comes as an exhaustive relief that making the voyage to Mars is not only my Daisy List*.

David Bowman‘s image of a Damsel Fly

[Written weeks ago under a baby blue sky, no vapour trails but cartoon clouds on the warmest day of the year.]

Sitting by a well stocked stretch of water with bees bobbing into every blackberry bud and the blue haze of damsel- & dragonflys billowing with each turn of a page, birds engaging in genial chatter and, too early in the day to bother much about anything, the geese resisting all inclination to honk their presence. This deep, restorative peace is almost overwhelming.

Yet, Life teams and pulses all around.

Contrast the earnestly eerie, empty silence of Mars?


NASA’s images which its roving lander Perseverance wafts across the 217 million miles separating the planets in 19 minutes (tiens, eh ben dit donc), make me weep.

Life, teaming gush of unending cascade, seems tangibly absent in desolation of shattering void.

If you squint amid the Red Planet’s ochre vibrations, are you also shaken by what absence-of-life looks like? No blue sky, no pulsing verdance, neither dawns nor dusks, never blossoms in blooms or birds in song. Nor can imagination, kindness, joy or wonder penetrate the dense, unyielding vacuum.

Exploration is in our DNA, the bold will go and stretch further filigrees of enquiry. Thank goodness their bravery allows me to remain here to gaze through the green at crushingly exquisite glory of this planet.

It makes me so thankful for the barely credible co-incidence that perfect distance from our star enables dark matter to manifest itself materially as Life: by which I mean consciousness.

* dismal expression of Bucket List more cheerfully captured as Daisy List.

Improper Gander?


© Getty                                          Greylag geese dashing after my blackberries?

Now here’s the thing: is feeding blackberries to geese akin to giving sweets to children … before lunch?

I restore equilibrium by wandering through a wetland & wild fowl oasis and recently have discovered geese to be fiends for the engorged fruit which have so benefitted from the recent, well-timed rain. Now it’s my new best friend … the occupation of communing with these elegant, voluble yet gentle birds by virtue of being a conduit of blackberry from bush to beak.

They’re quick on the uptake too. Never having shown the slightest interest in the mile-long mangrove of berry-laden prickles, within five minutes of watching the picking before consuming, long necks were straining to reach the very same berry-laden boughs.

Teal, swan and egret all turn up their beaks. Why? [I’d have liked to see if the woodpeckers were equally averse but they’ve not been seen since a rather intense – and distressingly public – mating collision in late May. Guess they felt at sea among watery peers.]

The restorative nature of … nature infuses peacefulness at the cellular level, seems to me. The exercise of getting there builds the appetite for spreading troubles over rippling waters and sploosh, they’re gone. Gazing on peacefulness grows resilience to the stressed conditions which seem to shape our lives. Simple, accessible and not improper at all.