John Clare wrote: Withering and keen the winter comes
While comfort flies to close-shut rooms.
I'm not sure how much comfort there would be around in Clare's day; interesting he speaks of rooms being "close-shut" but I expect there would be draughts aplenty. Now we can really get snug and warm and shut out the wintry weather. I am not a lover of this weather but I do try not to complain, especially today after hearing about the absolutely dreadful news from Haiti.
That the poorest country in the Western world, where hardship is a way of life for almost all the population, should suffer such an appalling tragedy and that aid to help them cannot get into the country should make even the coldest of us thank our lucky stars that we were not born there.
Apparently the air port has been largely destroyed and they can only cope with one plane at once and have no aviation fuel to refuel planes - and each plane takes about six hours to unload.
As the farmer pointed out though, television cameras and reporters seem to have got there - the news media are in the front line at arriving at these catastrophes. I am torn between being appalled at them showing close ups of a devastated people and thinking that it is important that the world should know.
But nature is red in tooth and claw, natural disasters do occur, especially in countries which sit astride faults in the earth's crust. Even in our own back gardens tiny crises occur every day - earlier today a sparrow hawk swept through, snatched a blue tit feeding on the fat balls, stood on the snow-topped hedge, plucked its catch and ate it. Bad luck for the blue tit but the sparrow hawk also has to eat and it is not its fault that blue tit is its food.
Someone writing in The Times chastises another letter writer for singing the praises of the greater spotted woodpecker which has arrived at his bird table and is giving him hours of pleasure. The writer points out that that same woodpecker in a couple of month's time will be settling on the side of the tit nesting box, sticking his long barbed tongue through the hole and pulling out a nestling for breakfast.
That Darwin preached the doctrine of natural selection - the survival of the fittest -may be of some comfort when watching the blue tit being plucked on the hedge, but I am sure it is of no comfort at all to the poor people of Haiti who, after suffering so much tragedy over the years, are now faced with the biggest tragedy yet - many of those survivors" forced to stand by helpless while their loved ones lie buried nearby. And the world's track record for dealing with such tragedies is not that great. How many people who suffered in the tsunami are still waiting to be rehoused? And how many people who were made homeless by the earthquake in Pakistan are still living in tents? And what is the weather like in the Himalayas where people live in such conditions? Life is cruel and we must be thankful for our close-shut rooms.