Apocalyptic State of Mind
This week’s newsletter is a bit heavy, so I’m speckling it with pumpkin updates from the garden to lighten the mood. (I’m sure I’ll feel more positive next week but sometimes you just have to write about real stuff, you know?) Three of the pumpkin varieties I planted are successfully developing fruits, but the fourth (red turban) is still very small, flowering now and then but with no sign of a pumpkin yet. In fact, I made the risky decision to move her recently because I didn’t think she was getting enough sun, so please - keep her in your prayers.
If you’re not based in the UK, you may not know that we are currently experiencing a cool, grey and rainy summer, only weeks after a heatwave in June hit record temperatures. It’s easy to think July and the start of August have been pretty bluuurrrrgh because we tend to see everything through an anthropocentric lens, so if we can’t have a BBQ, lie in a park or take good wedding photos, we consider it ‘bad’ weather. But last week I realised how lovely this summer has actually been - maybe not for the humans, but certainly for the wildlife.
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Last year, we had such an intense heatwave that I remember seeing a dragonfly and wondering where on earth it had come from, as so many local water sources had dried up. It has rained here almost every day for the last month but everything looks alive. It’s been a while since I’ve seen so many butterflies and bees in the garden, wet grass, glossy berries, flowers and foliage. Ok, I’m wearing a jumper in early August. But from where I’m writing, I can see three red admirals on the budleia cone by my window who appear to be loving life.
The grey weather is also helping to appease the existential dread by which I’m being plagued at the moment. PLAGUED, I tell you. I’m trying to wean myself off the news but I can’t cut it off completely, because that doesn’t feel right either. Climate change, pandemics, wildfires, war, artificial intelligence - I can’t just ignore this stuff. It’s the state of the world, for Christ’s sake. But sometimes it really does feel like a physical weight on one’s shoulders. Anyone else? I’m envious of people like my neighbour, who is generally pleasant but reads the Daily Mail and sprays their lawn with weedkiller and literally doesn’t give an iota of a thought to climate change unless it’s to moan about an inconvenient green policy that probably won’t be passed anyway because our just-give-up-and-save-yourselves government are the absolute worst.
So here lies the age-old question: What can we do? How can any of us alleviate the crushing mental weight of climate change and everything else? I’m not in any way a perfect environmentalist, so I can’t even shelter in the smugness of my own lifestyle. Yes, I buy organic vegetables and coffee and second-hand clothes, but guess what? I also buy cheap tops from H&M, I drive short distances I could have walked, I switch on unnecessary lights to create a ‘cosy vibe’. I guess I could sort all that out, but even from the lofty moral turrets of my cavity wall castle, dressed in upcycled potato sacks and eco-lunching on seaweed and wild venison, all it takes is a glance at BBC News to make it all feel so futile. Which of course, it isn’t! I am, at heart, a hopeful person who believes positive change can happen. Just not at this moment. Perhaps it’s a mixture of postnatal hormones, book deadlines, potty training and that twat claiming it will all be fine, you silly plebs, but goodness me I am struggling with the state of the world right now.
Usually if I have an issue I can’t directly resolve, I try to let it go and focus inwards. I hone in on the beautiful little details of my own life and practice gratitude and mindfulness, grow something, paint something or rewatch a Poirot. That all feels pretty selfish and privileged in 2023, but to be honest, with where I’m at with life, work, family and health, it’s all I can really do to try and keep mentally afloat at the mo. So this week I will not be lobbying politicians or swapping my car for an e-bike or sitting on Rishi Sunak’s house (world’s tiniest violin for Rishi). Instead I will be tending to my pumpkins, Googling new ways to cook courgettes, working on the last few pages of my next book, and trying as hard as possible to go five minutes without checking the bloody headlines, all while feeling really guilty about everything I do, eat, buy or think. What a time to be alive!
If you made it to the end, enjoy this nice vegan recipe I’ve been making recently :)