Traveling a long timeline, with a break for tea

Cornwall Cogitation #9, Sunday 5 April 2015–Easter crowns the day and every day. Blessings in the ways you’ve celebrated Easter 2015. Further on, I’ll add a word on our celebration.

Today’s comments come as a random selection of topics that follow a chronological timeline. I say random as in finding interesting tidbits in newspapers, magazines, books, people, places and, if only I could remember, dreams.

About 230 million years ago: The Carolina Butcher. That’s an ancient type of crocodile, nine feet long, that roamed North Carolina before dinosaurs had become fully established. If you’re a paleontologist, you’ve probably read about this killer croc in Scientific Reports. For others, just to note, Carolina Butcher died out at the close of the Triassic period, leaving smaller crocodiles to change their hunting style to live alongside dinosaurs as scavengers. One lesson I take is that change among living things is constant, even if mighty slow.

Last autumn Marty and I had the pleasure of visiting the Indianapolis Children’s Museum with Stacey and Chris Spolyar and their children Conner, Carter and Carsyn. Conner has his eye on becoming a paleontologist and he–and his siblings–expertly guided us through the dinosaur exhibits. What fun that day was, tiring, yet totally fun.

(2500-600 BCE) Bronze Age hedgerows. “In Praise of the Hedgerow,” is the title of an article in the March Country Living. The article said the oldest of these field dividers (fences) in Britain date from the Bronze Age and the Romans continued the tradition as did the Saxons. We walk through farmland where these drystone walls, enclosing small fields, are grown over with wild flowers, bushes, trees, harboring loads of wild life. In our walk from St Ives to Zennor these hedges are said to be 3,000 years old. They have protected livestock and sheltered wildlife for millennia. In England, the county with the most hedges is Devon, boasting a total of 33,000 miles, more than 25 percent at least 800 years old. Modern development has not been kind to hedges. An estimated average of 2,200 miles of hedgerows In England and Wales were destroyed each year between 1990 and 1993, but halted in the mid-1990s.

Here’s an excerpt from the article: “Hedgerows also provide a habitat for 21 out of our 28 lowland mammals–not only the hedgehog, dormouse, harvest mouse and bank vole, but also the stouts and weasels that prey on them . . . at least 30 types of birds nest in hedgerows . . . In fact, hedgerows are the most important wildlife habitat for much of our lowland countryside.” A skilled hedgelaying craftsman “can easily clock up 15 yards a day. Then provided it is trimmed every ten years or so, a well-managed hedge will last for decades.”

2300 BCE, Enheduanna, first female author. Born around 2300 BCE, the first named female author, Enheduanna, was a Sumerian High Priestess in the city of Ur. She wrote exquisite poetry. I came across her in an article about the intersections between first-wave feminism, World War I and the Indian independence movement. The article’s title: “How to write history that reinstates women, not birds.” Nothing against birds, just focused on reclaiming historical heroines.

2000 BCE, Abraham comes to Palestine. These are the biblical stories of the ancestors of the Israelites. From about 1700 – 1250 BCE, the descendants of Jacob are enslaved in Egypt. There’s conquest and settlement of Canaan, the united Israelite kingdom, the two Israelite kingdoms, the last years of the kingdom of Judah (700 BCE), the exile and restoration.

1 CE (Common Era), birth of Jesus. Amazing story, this progression of history. Just so, we joined Christians around the globe today to celebrate God’s indestructible love in the birth, life, death, resurrection, presence and promise of Jesus’ return. “God by his Spirit lies inside those who believe in him,” said Vicar Suzanne Hosking. We sang, “Jesus Christ is ris’n today, alleluia! our triumphant holy day, alleluia! who did once upon the cross, alleluia! suffer to redeem our loss, alleluia!” That’s a stanza written in  the 14th century by a saint of old witnessing to the faith that guides pilgrims today.

2015, time for a cuppa. Tea time. Sadly, we rely on teabags for our cuppa made here and most of the time at home. Still, I find it fascinating to see how–and why–others make the perfect brew. Here’s a quote I like better than any of last week’s selections: “A good cup of tea is an absolute joy. If you like the way you do it, carry on. If you have never experienced the simple pleasure of making a bit of a ceremony out of brewing tea, give it a go. Good quality black tea, typically Ceylon Broken Orange Pekoe, china teapot (prewarmed) and water that has only just boiled. Infuse the tea for between three and five minutes, through a strainer into fine china cups mugs and add whatever takes your fancy (milk, sugar, a tot of whiskey, etc). Sit back in a comfy chair and enjoy while you watch the world go by.” snakeandpygmypie. We have to do more to slow down for those magic moments of watching the world go by.

With my cuppa I had a generous piece of Farmhouse fruit cake. We bought the cake at the St Anta Spring Fayre held a week ago. Yum. Actually, the Easter fare here is Simnel cake. It’s a fuller version fruit cake with a marzipan icing. I had a piece at a birthday party. Yum. Also had two hot cross buns from Oven Bakery. Yum. For lunch today I had lamb and pistachio and rosemary nut stuffing; starter was fresh figs wrapped in Parma ham, goat cheese, toasted pine nuts and honey. Yum. Yum.

Days ahead, two books that intrigue. The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District by James Rebanks. It’s Rebanks’  diary of his years as a sheep farmer in the northeastern fells of the Lake District, in the Eden Valley over the ridge from Ullswater. In 1995 we spent a week in nearby Glenridding on Ullswater Lake and not only walked though fields of sheep but stopped our car in the middle of the road to let a flock of sheep, sheep dog and shepherd trudge past. Exciting moment again in retrospect.

I’d also love to read Nightwalking, by Matthew Beaumont (reviewed by Robert McCrum sometime in the past week in The Independent). It’s described as an “enthralling study of city life and creativity based on the illuminating discovery that, for a thousand years, being on the street after dark was a crime,” The subtitle ids “Nocturnal History of London.” McCrum writes, “Responsible citizens owned houses and stayed in after dark. Rogues, rakes, prostitutes and ‘wicked persons’ were noctambulant. At the lower end of the social scale, they were often the victims of agrarian capitalism, the abolition of the common land that was intrinsic to the precious way of life of Merrie England.”

What? No comment on the UK election campaign that  has included  a debate by the  leaders of  the seven parties vying for success in the May 7 election? Not this  week. It’s shaping up to be “not business or predictable as usual along party lines.” In a future blog I’ll try to sort out something of what’s happening.

Sometime down the road, Blackberry Oat Crumble Anyone? Here’s a comfort cake with  a double dose of oats. Ruby Tandoh (The Guardian 04.04.15) writes: “It’s the kind of cake to be eaten still warm from the oven, with custard, from under the duvet.”

Walking’s going well. I may have noted this comment from the woman at the Tourist Office before. She said an American last summer came into the office and asked for a list of taxis. He had a rental car but said of country lanes and farm tracks, “I refuse to drive on sidewalks.” Roads here end at the sea; Cornwall is 80 percent surrounded by the sea. The coastal, river and field paths stretch body and soul. Weather this week points to fine walks.

A favourite walk, a couple cups of tea, and chocolates to you this week. -John

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