On Giants and Wise Women

prompt: https://scvincent.com/2019/08/15/thursday-photo-prompt-journey-writephoto/

When I was a child my father said his mother had told him that the family was related to the Cornish Giant. I was an impressionable child and this story filled me with awe. Being related to a giant seemed kind of freaky – not quite right. I mean wouldn’t ‘nice’ people be related to pleasant beings like the fairies at the bottom of the garden or sweet little pixies. Having a giant as an ancestor kind of fitted with my family though. My dad was over 6′ tall and his sisters were tall unmarried women with mannish haircuts. My dad also had a foul temper and was prone to throwing his weight around. All in all, I was inclined to believe there might be some truth in the story.

As an adult I learned that there are many legends about giants in Cornwall so I can’t be altogether sure just which one I’m supposedly related to. One of the best known was Cormoran, a giant who lived on St Micheal’s Mount. He was a fearsome character who terrified the local villagers so much they offered a reward to anyone brave enough to kill him. A young boy called Jack claimed the reward when, against all odds, he disposed of the giant.

He did this by digging a pit half way up the Mount when the giant was asleep. He then roused Cormoran by blowing on his horn. Cormoran ran down the hillside in a rage and fell into the pit. Jack then quickly filled in the pit and buried him. Legend has it he then collected the giant’s treasure.

In this legend you would definitely want to be related to Jack rather than Cormoran.

In more recent times there was a Cornish man who some called a giant:-

” Anthony Payne was born in Stratton, Bude in Cornwall in 1612 and was a sporty lad who grew to be 7’4″ tall (223.5cm) and 32 stone.  A great bear of a man he was also quick-witted and gentle.


  Anthony became the bodyguard of a local notable, Sir Bevill Grenville, and fought along side him during the Civil War.”


One of my daughters is currently investigating our family tree. At my suggestion she searched for Anthony Payne but hasn’t been able to trace dad’s maternal line back to the 1600s. The earliest ancestor she’s been able to find on that line is a woman called Sarah Wiseheart.

What a wonderful name. Apparently Wiseheart isn’t all that uncommon as a surname but I hadn’t heard it before. I imagine Sarah Wiseheart as a kindly village elder skilled in herbal lore – an embodiment of the crone archetype back in the days before such women were given a bad rap by Christian priests and burnt at the stake.

Facts, fictions and imagined stories blend together in my mind to form an impression of magical times when giants roamed and wise women were honoured. In my mind I visualize these characters living in on mist shrouded craggy mountains beside the sea. Down in the valleys lie little villages where wood fire smoke curls and spirals into the golden light of evening. Women gather herbs in the fading light while brave boys strut around proudly.

Another time and place only half real but somehow leaving traces in my DNA…

In the Green World

We are in the middle of a ‘polar blast’ here in southern Australia. Earlier this morning I checked the temperature online. 4c but feels like 1.5c was the reading. I couldn’t argue with the feels like.

The weather site predicted snow down to 600 metres. I live closer to sea level so we don’t get snow. Instead we get rain – lots and lots of it! The grass is certainly enjoying it – the green is almost luminescent. During the one sunny break we’ve had in days I took some photos of the Ash tree in my yard.

It’s been a while since I took a really close look at this tree and I was surprised to see signs of new leaf growth. Spring must be on it’s way, despite the cold.

I’ve lived with this tree a year now. My lease was up this week and for a wild moment I thought a year would be extent of the time I spent living beside the Ash’s graceful presence. The tree is beautiful but the surrounding area has its problems. It’s very busy and the roads are congested. I am surrounded by building sites. The possums leaping and bounding across the flat tin roof every night have heart attack potential. I installed some motion sensor lights but that only makes the critters run faster. They make even more noise when they do that. The very bad drummer over the back fence continues to bang out the same Green Day tune on Saturday afternoons. And so it goes…

I’ve been looking for a place to rent in a quieter area but can’t find anything. I live on a fixed income and rentals in my price range are hard to find. I’d given up when last weekend I saw a little house in a town closer to my family and one I’d love to live in. Online the place looked ideal. I applied to inspect it and drove across the peninsula to the north side on Wednesday afternoon.

Port Phillip Bay shimmered in clear white light as I drove along the cliff road. Off in the distance I could see the city of Melbourne hovering on the horizon like a dream city. I drove down past the magical beach where I’d seen signs of old aboriginal habitation during the summer then turned up a side street to the house.

At the aboriginal site last summer

Pulling up outside the houss I saw a number of other people were also there for the inspection. Rather than getting out and mingling everyone sat in their cars ignoring each other till the girl from the Real Estate arrived. We then all shuffled through the house barely registering each other’s presence. There was a competitive edge to the whole proceedure.

The house was quite nice. Some of the rooms were very cramped and the place had an odd floor plan. It was situated on a very large block of land with carefully manicured gardens and vast lawns. Mowing it would be a chore but I thought maybe I could employ someone to do that. With the other people hot my heels I handed in my application. The man right behind me was very pushy. He and the Real Estate girl were having an animated chat as I moved away.

The sea was even more magical as I drove out. I tried to imagine living in the house but could mostly only imagine going for walks along the beach. The house and its surroundings felt kind of unreal. Still I kept my hopes up. Maybe it could work – maybe I’d get it.

I didn’t. On Friday lunch time I got an email telling me my application had been unsuccessful. I don’t often get knocked back on rentals so I was a bit disappointed but, deep down, I didn’t mind all that much. There was something not quite right about the place despite the proximity to the magical beach.

So here I am – still living beside the Ash tree. Spring is apparently around the corner. The traffic on the main road still moans and groans. The weekend footy players in the park are hollering at each other and blowing whistles maniacally despite the weather. The town with the magical views of the sea is still a 1/2 hour drive away and the rental situation is still in limbo. Life goes on…

Climate Change and Denial

prompt and photo credit: https://scvincent.com/2019/07/25/thursday-photo-prompt-aflame-writephoto/

Recently I was walking into a shopping centre to buy my groceries when I overheard a man declaiming to his wife that climate change wasn’t caused by human activity. According to him the planet goes through natural cycles of warming and cooling. There is nothing to worry about, he assured her.

He was a young man and, while not wanting to make superficial judgements about people based on their appearance, he did not appear to have the demeanor of a leading climatologist. To me he looked more like your average tradie.

Whatever his background he was very sure of his opinions and his wife positively wilted under the force of them.

Walking on I wondered what made him so adamant. As I went about buying food in the unavoidable single use plastic bags that industry wraps basic essentials in, I considered Elizabeth Kubler Ross and the stages of grief she defined:-

The 5 stages of grief and loss are: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them. https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-5-stages-of-loss-and-grief/

I’m wondering whether these people who declare so dogmatically that climate change is not a result of human activity are actually in denial. After all, coming to the realization that the climate change is caused by our own actions can raise questions about our fundamental approach to the environment. Most people fear making big changes in their lifestyle. They are comfortable with things as they are now.

Comfort aside, the evidence that something is seriously wrong with the climate is growing. Still though our politicians are refusing to act or even acknowledge that action is necessary. Over here in Australia the current conservative Government is perfecting the art of double-speak. I recently read that our latest Environmental Minister is on her way to the Pacific Islands to assure the people of Tuvalu that Australia is upholding the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Meanwhile the people of Tuvalu are shoring up their coastline as the sea washes away their homes. Many have already had to evacuate to New Zealand. https://www.climate.gov/teaching/resources/tuvalu-islands-frontline-climate-change

Yesterday I read an online article about the recent heat wave in Europe. The article described how the temperatures were the hottest on record. However, the writer assured readers, scientists could not attribute this to climate change. What scientists? The science teachers at the local conservative high school? It’s funny how these scientists who deny climate change are rarely named.

Yesterday I also read that the Medieval Warm Period that many climate change deniers use as evidence for their argument did not occur across the globe but was a localized event. The current rise in temperature is occurring across the globe. https://skepticalscience.com/medieval-warm-period.htm

To me it’s alarmingly clear that climate change is happening and that human activity is the cause. If I apply the Kubler Ross stages of grief to myself I would say I’m in depression. All my previous blog posts about climate change have been a kind of bargaining – a way of imploring people to wake up before it’s too late. The recent election results in Australia sent me and many people I know into depression. We really believed that we could change the situation politically and influence government policy. What actually happened was that many voters were swayed by the media. Rupert Murdoch and a couple of billionaire miners convinced people that acting on climate change would cause massive job losses and result in economic catastrophe.

“There are no jobs on a dead planet”.

I have a set of Oracle Cards that are based on Native American philosophies. Recently I read the commentary on one card that finished with a prayer that all people would find healing. These days I find the prayer that springs to mind for me is that all people will wake up to the reality of climate change. If more and more of us move into a position where we accept the reality we will able to find the ways and means to create positive change.

The ship, the sea and the sky

Walking by the sea this morning I became slightly obsessed with photographing a ship. I first saw it as it loomed out of the rain streaked haze of the bay.

In a few short minutes it approached the eastern headland that guards the opening to the open sea.

My walk took me close to the western headland of the bay. The heads are only 3 miles apart so as the ship looked much larger as it entered the open sea.

The opening to the bay is apparently quite treacherous to navigate. Perhaps that is why the ships exit on the eastern side then sail across to the western side before disappearing out of sight.