online: december 2004
modified: 4 january 2005

31 december 2004 our postnatural presence

15:19 after eating a sandwich on a seat facing the viaduct on the last day of the year...

...i pause to blow a running nose... and i hear voices (and is it a penny whistle?) from the direction of a tree with many branches in which i sometimes see people climbing...

...i look up and see blue grey clouds moving quickly to the south east...

...there are no leaves on any tree - they lie on the ground, enabling one to see grey sky through the forest of branches. A few dark green leaves adhere to the bramble beside me and i see no insects whatever - not in the air - i suppose they are dead or hiding. I look under a stone and some leaves but i see nothing moving.

I find it difficult to imagine the grasses, leaves, new branches, flowers and fruits that will in a few months be reconstructing themselves from this dead-looking ground, brambles, trees, mosses, rain, sun, wind, everything...

a woman following a man up the slope before me calls 'hello'...and then 'happy new year', to which i reply as the man turns to look at me but does not speak...

...then i walked, pausing to look for insects beneath fallen leaves or in the bark of fallen trees but i found none... then, when i rolled a log, i saw a wood louse on the damp part that had been on the ground... unpleasant childhood memories of wood lice stopped me looking for more insects.

Parliament Hill. 'The old year looks old today' - those words came to mind as i looked at an unexpected streak of dull redness at the south east horizon beyond the tall buildings in the City and in Docklands - a reddish streak seen through mist or rain beneath dark blue-grey clouds over central London... the last sight of it this year...

(but these natural cycles mean less and less as our postnatural presence becomes more nearly continuous in time and place).

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