Welcome to the Blog for April, 2020

News and Views on Ageing
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“These are the good old days”

Day Thirtythree of Solitude April 25th, 2020
sunset, Totnes, 2019
“These are the good old days”. This line from the Carly Simon song “Anticipation” has been going through my head these past few days and, although the context in her song is rather different, the line does speak to how I feel about this time we are in. And about the reality of human experience generally. Where we live is right here, right now, not yesterday or tomorrow. Currently, there is not much point in looking forward to that summer holiday in Spain or Cornwall as there is a good chance the winter will be here before we have the opportunity to travel.

That is not to say that looking back or looking ahead is not useful, memories and plans are very valuable, it's just that they are not reality. The past is as much a fantasy as any future we might imagine. The corona C-19 virus is teaching us how arbitrary our view of time is and in reality time stretches and contracts, it moves in step with our awareness.

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"Breathing All Creatures Are Brighter Then Than Brightest Star" *

Day Twentynine of Solitude April 21st, 2020
hens resting on lawn
Sitting in the garden with my book when four of the hens decided to pay a visit. After poking around on the newly dug herb bed they came and scratched around a few feet from me and then decided to sit and relax in the warm sunshine.

I put my book down and watched the hens as they adjusted their position in relation to each other and then settled, they all had a wing extended and the nearest hen had a leg sticking out a bizarre angle. They looked as content as I was feeling.

I watched the nearest one, her body rising and lowering with large slow regular movements as the she exchanged oxygen and carbon dioxide. Just like me, just like many of the earth’s breathing creatures.

* The Incredible String Band, Wee Tam and the Big Huge, 1968

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Nature Can be Overwelming at Times

Day Twentyseven of Solitude April 19th, 2020
Speedwell, small blue wild flower
I have just come in from the garden after sitting in the sun with a book and a cup of tea. After a while I put my book down in order to attend to the bird song, to watch the insects as they flew above me and the sheep standing on the hill. Then I began to look at the herb garden in front of me and hedges around me bringing the thought of nature on a mission, so much rampant growth! Nettles, bramble and grass interspersed with dandelions and speedwell and in the hedge the sycamore is becoming unruly.
So much to do, mowing, shearing, rakeing, tidying, it could be overwhelming! Or maybe we can re-wild the hedges and let the flowers be by default.

Be that as it may, after preparing my lunch, I intend to go back to my bench in the herb garden and watch mother nature tend her ever growing family, I may even read another page of my book. I will certainly have another cup of tea.

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Hooked on technology

Day Twentyfour of Solitude April 16th, 2020
Dart Valley over Zoom, screen capture
Before the viral emergency I was gradually weaning myself off technology, which after a lifetime in the electronics industry was not so easy. Over a couple of years or more out went various computers, radios and test equipment.
When I came to the Barn Retreat Centre as a residential volunteer coordinator I was down to one laptop, one tablet, a cheap point and shoot camera and a £50 smartphone. Plus a small toolbox.

Just over three weeks into the shut down I have added a camera tripod, a decent webcam, digital voltmeter, a Huawei data dongle and speakers for my laptop. And all, well nearly all, because of Zoom. I’m zooming all over the place: daily meditation and meeting here at the Barn, meditation sitting groups in Totnes and Truro, Awakening the Sage Within course and weekly international meditation group. Oh, and a number of virtual social gatherings.

I think that I need to fess up, I really love technology, I love what we can do with it more but I also feel at home with the nuts and bolts. So, to the picture above: It's a screen shot of a view of the River Dart and valley transmitted from my mobile phone into a Zoom meeting and recorded by one of the meeting participants.

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Easter Saturday

Day Eighteen of Solitude April 11th, 2020
Dart Valley from Sharpham
It's a beautiful morning, a little haze over the valley. Just to sit on the side of the hill, watching bumble bees wizz zigzagingly by and birdsong all around me, is some sort of heaven. Aware of my contact with earth, of being alive, there's not much more to be asked for.

The hill on the far side of the river looks like a David Inshaw painting, a tree in the middle of a field casts a shadow in the direction of Totnes and a group of cows make their way down the hill to drink at the river edge.

On a hill above the Dart a ruined farmhouse that, even on this beautiful spring morning, has all the melancholy and desolation that a hundred years of emptiness brings.

Below on the river a single yacht makes it slow way downstream to Dartmouth.

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Thursday

Day Seven of Solitude April 2nd, 2020
lettuce
Must of us grow up loaded with shoulds and shouldn'ts and it can be illuminating to see how we are when we stop judging ourselves or at least develop the ability to see when we are listening to that internalised voice of judgement. Perhaps seeing the expectations we have of ourselves and how they can contrast with what we actually feel. Yesterday I felt a strong connection with the life all around me, the flowers, the birds, the trees and the animals. Today not so much, there was a need to be quiet and to be inside myself, to be with the awareness of the blood pumping, the warmth in my belly and the edge-of-tears sadness there at times.
Quietly watering the poly tunnels, then sowing up a tray of Kelvin Wonder peas and later measuring up to make a couple of barriers to stop the hens coming into the poly tunnels and snaffling our salad leaves. Why spend all day scratching around the woodland when some kind humans created an enormous salad bowl that keeps on giving!

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