The Squeeky Wheel
I've found it very difficult to post anything recently. Horticultural topics seem trivial, environmental and political issues depressingly repetitive, and echo chamber outrage relating to them shrill and predictable. We live in more difficult times than I can get my arms around at the moment.
Over the years I've wondered what it must have felt like to have lived here at another challenging period - around 400 - 500 AD. Recently more than ever; I've been surprised not to have read more about the increasingly striking similiarities between those times and now.
We're largely guessing as to how Britains responded to the end of Roman "occupation". The south would have always seemed very different to militarised zones, but some think that that outside urban centres the Romans had relatively little impact anywhere.
Although there's an element of the deliberately provocative about this, it's an interesting idea. And the punctuation marks we see now - like c.410, when the last legions left Britannia - would have seemed much less obvious than we might think with the benefit of hindsight. I doubt there was a sense of end of days among the upper classes, who continued to live in relative - albeit declining - luxury for several more generations (the same was true with knobs on for the Eastern Empire).
For most, life would have continued as usual in the fifth century. They would have worried about the rats in the barn and a late frost, and busied themselves mending the old squeeky wheel on the cart. The routine of work is a great solace.
It would have been difficult - particularly as life expectancy was so short - for rich and poor alike to have been conscious of - let alone understood - the degrading effects on living standards of climate change, plague, stagflation, war, declining trade, general lawlessness and failing public institutions. Etc..
Fast forward to today, and I worry about late frost killing my cucumbers, mice eating my sweet peas, and the wheelbarrow conking out. We all need these everyday worries.
We've been busy too, thank goodness, at a difficult time for customers - I'm hearing unsurprising reports suggesting a dramatic fall in sales in the horticultural sector.
We've had lots of pond plants to send out, which we do from here. It has been as much a welcome distraction as it has been rewarding. It's lovely to think of all the new ponds around the country we're helping to get going, from Shetland to the Scillies. And of course we sell literally tonnes of wildflower seeds to customers every year, for back garden pots to posh estates. That's a lot of new wildflower meadows, a lot of new habitat.
We can only do what we can do. And, to lighten the tone, to try to avoid this kind of thing!