Friday, 15 January 2010

Nature - red in tooth and claw.

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.


steven said...

hello weaver - yesterday i spoke with my class before we sang the national anthem (o canada) and asked them to take some time to reflect on their good fortune. each was well aware of the terrible tragedy that has befallen the people of haiti. it is difficult for children to connect to such distant events but in the ensuing discussion i was reminded once more of the great empathy and deep-seated kindness of people regardless of their age. gratitude - yes it's a good thing to wake up safe and sound and be thankful for even the simplest things. have a lovely day in the dale. steven

dinesh chandra said...

Good to read such post.


Dinesh Chandra

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

The suffering in Haiti is beyond comprehension. I, too, sometimes find it is almost obscene to watch people in their most primal moments of suffering - but the media does need to show this to touch people deeply so that they open their pockets and send money now!

Let's keep good thoughts for the people who have gone there to rescue and minister to medical needs - they are being traumatized deeply as they work.

Haitians have born so much in the way of scarcity, uncertainty, loss and suffering. Life is cruel and can, at times, seem like a horrible cosmic prank.

Poet in Residence said...

The site of the earthquake is not all that far from Guantanamo Bay. Surely it would have been a simple matter to send a couple of ships from there full of soldiers and relief supplies. It would have been there by now. No airport required.
Our leaders, as was clearly shown in New Orleans, are all too often found wanting.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

How right you are; we have so much to be grateful for even though we don't often realise it.

My friend Lyn, over at Two Ghosts, has written a poem based on Haiti. You can read it here:

I'm certainly grateful for close-shut rooms!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Very thoughtful piece. I am in rather a shock about Haiti. I can't imagine the devastation, the suffering. What does one do with 50,000 deceased? And then the injured and now all the homeless and hungry? The lost? Overwhelming.

Pondside said...

I too wondered at the ability of media reps to get into Haiti, but two or three with cameras can hire a small helicopter, as we saw on the news last night. My son has been called up by the Red Cross, and friends of his were on their way in military ships yesterday morning - everyone is trying hard to provide some relief, but it is heartbreaking to see the rescue workers sitting in the airport in the Dominican Republic, with their much-needed dogs, because they can't get into the airport in Haiti. Our gov't will match our rpivate donations dollar for dollar - it's one way in which we can help.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we have much to be grateful for.
The tragedy in Haiti is heartbreaking.
The so called "Christian" right wing in the US is being awful and saying that God is punishing the Haitians.
Stupidity compounding tragedy.
One only hopes that the relief efforts speed up.
Steven is quite right to make us aware of our good fortune.
On US TV hearings in which bankers are trying to defend their vast and un-neeeded bonuses.
Next moment Haiti

Heather said...

Nature is indeed cruel and life itself is so unfair. We should all appreciate what we have and be mindful of the needs of others less fortunate. The worst thing is knowing that there is nothing we can do to improve matters for those victims. I suppose there will be a worldwide appeal and we can contribute to that, but it always seems to be too little, too late.

Cloudia said...


Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

Lyn said...

It is a strange irony that the rescue can't even land..that food and equipment are circling or stranded. The poorest keep suffering to a greater degree. We must hope our leaders can expidite a plan that will lessen this unthinkable sorrow.
A cold winter day, right here, seems fine to me now!!

Titus said...

Beautiful post on perspectives, Weaver. And on true need.

Anonymous said...

So true. There will be immense compassion from the world that you and I inhabit and the practical response will reflect it. And then, as ever, it will stall at the airports and distribution centres and, after a month or two, the governments of the world will observe that 'there are lessons to be learned from this'.

Dave King said...

Yes indeed, nature red in tooth an d claw has many lessons for us, inspite of the fact - or because of it - that we can circumvent nature in so man y ways. Another post that I would have hated to miss.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Throughout these comments I get the sense that there is a feeling of helplessness - that we watch events unfolding, things going wrong, preductions of disease outbreaks, everything and yet we can do nothing. This morning there is a wonderful photograph in all the papers of a little two year old boy being dug out alive and reunited with his parents - the look on his face is so beautiful - yet I wonder what kind of a world he has come out into.
Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment - much appreciated.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Well said.
Such a dreadful tragedy for the people of Haiti. It is impossible to wrap one's mind around it.

Dartford Warbler said...

Another well measured and sensitive post.

There is a feeling of helplessness from so far away. All we can do is give whatever we can afford to help the NGOs in their valiant rescue and rehabilitation efforts. Tonight (Sunday) news comes that help is gradually trickling through to those in need. The logistics must be daunting.