Friday 24 April 2020

Another River Walk

Our apple blossoms.
I have just come away from a combox discussion about the Vile Germ and why, in the UK, a disproportionate number of people of colour are allegedly dying from it. Some have pointed out that the majority of Covid-19 deaths, like the majority of people of colour in the UK, are in London.  Some have pointed to the high prevalence of multi-generational households amongst people of colour. Someone else made a case for a lack of Vitamin D. He suggested that we had a sunless winter and that people of colour need five times as much sun as people of pallor do to produce Vitamin D. He suggested also that the elderly in care homes (also allegedly disproportionately dying) aren't in the sun much.

I am intrigued by this theory, but the first question that
comes to mind is the likelihood of the residents of Italy having a Vitamin D deficiency. (Maybe they do.) Nevertheless, I hope my white but housebound parents in chilly Toronto are getting enough Vitamin D, and that more research is conducted and advice about Vitamin D is widely published. Non-native Australians are given constant advice about skin cancer; it makes sense to warn about dangers from too little sun.
Golf course.

But to get way from theories about the Vile Germ, I can report I had a nice day yesterday. I blogged away until it was time for work. Around 1 PM, B.A. brought me cheese toast with tomatoes. Then I went out and dug up dandelions--and guess what? I have finished the entire lawn, and now need only go back over it for a mop-up operation. Naturally more of the green monsters sprouted behind me as I worked my way down the lawn.

I went back to work. One of the more curious stories from the pandemic is Pope Francis blaming human treatment of the environment for it. The more traditional Catholic idea is that pestilence is punishment from Almighty God. Pope Francis' notion (which he almost certainly got from eco-liberation theologian Leonardo Boff) is that it is Mother Nature "throwing a fit." Anyway, I was edified to discover that Earth Day was founded by a more-or-less respectable U.S. Senator concerned about air and water pollution. Senator Gaylord Nelson also was against uncontrolled migration to the USA, for the same reasons, and made birth control companies produce information about ingredients and side effects. [Update: The Earth Day "co-founder" was not so respectable, and I will have to look more into this.]

True fact: instead of going deeply into the theology behind the Church's objections to birth control, my high school religion teacher of that year instructed us to read the entire page-long small print on an advertisement for the Pill. That convinced me of the dangers of the Pill, let me tell you.

But back to yesterday. After work, I ran around like a puppy who wants to be taken for a walk and went outside to wait for B.A. and mop up a few dandelions. Then I suspected I had spelled a name wrong in an article and so rushed back inside to see. I had. Furious with myself, I nevertheless did not commit suicide. Instead I informed two editors and went for a walk with B.A. This time we ambled along the Bad Side of the river to the golf course, past a pony and two horses, and returned via the beautiful side of the river.

It was an idyllic walk, really. We are so fortunate and blessed to live where we live. I thought about Marcus and Esca from The Eagle of the Ninth walking through the woods along the river themselves. We are, after all, only 33 miles or so from Trimontium, the abandoned Roman fort where they encountered the legionary who went native. Meanwhile, real Romans absolutely did walk along this river during the Antonine Occupation. How cool is that?

I asked B.A. what he misses most, and he most misses being physically present at Mass. He thinks I miss people more than he does, which is true. He enjoys being at home, doing his research, making toasted cheese ... All we need is a heather priest saying Mass at a "safe distance" in a field, and B.A. is set.

"Oh when I joined the Eagles
(As it might be yesterday)
I kissed a girl at Clusium
Before I marched away."
As for me, I miss people but I cannot complain. The sun keeps shining, none of my family or friends has become sick or lost their job, our flat is not cramped for two, and my broad beans have not yet perished. My travel plans are for the future: Poland in late May if possible. Italy in October if possible. Canada in February---it has to be possible, even if I have to book a berth on a freighter to New York.
"The girl I kissed at Clusium
I remember best of all."

We didn't go straight home when we finished our walk. Instead we went to a traditional chippy and ordered a big pepperoni pizza and a side order of battered mushrooms for me. (A rare treat.) As we passed our row on the way back, I took a photo of a worried-looking bear.

We watched two more episodes of The Chosen as we munched our pizza. I cried at the end of Episode 4. Do check the series out. It really is edifying.

Okay, photo time and then I will push our old-fashioned mower across the lawn.

Blossoms reflected in water. 

Bear in the time of corona.


  1. Shoutout for The Eagle of the Ninth! I loved that book as a teen, as well as every other book by Rosmary Sutcliff that my local library could supply.

    1. She's marvellous, isn't she? Lucky me, I haven't read all her books yet. But "The Eagle of the Ninth" sparked my early interest in Latin and Roman Britain. I think now, though, that it also made my worldview rather 1950's British. (I grew up reading books mostly written by Englishmen before 1960.) Sutcliff's Romans in Britain could just about be the English in India-- especially when the Empire is collapsing.

  2. Rosemary Sutcliff was an intriguing lady, by the way. She was crippled by a childhood illness, and wrote all those marvelous adventure stories while living a physically restricted and rather lonely life. She never married. But she did manage to travel to Greece! And to win the Carnegie medal.

    1. I was so intrigued to discovered that she had a physical disability, given the prominence of life-changing physical injury in "The Eagle of the Ninth". Her characters cope with a lot of suffering, too, and I can't help but think her own experiences and resilience helped her write about that so well.