Belle highlighted the existence of these colourful, home-made, crocheted rugs ... how many of you have these at home? (Above is a close-up of mine, bought at a church fair fifteen years ago.) Don't they instantly remind you of Granny? Somehow I think the futurist writers and such, in their vision of a cold, minamilist, stylised future sheered of all memorabilia, fail to take into account the power of nostalgia ... Or maybe they are writing of a post-holocaust world, when all such things have been wiped off the face of the planet. A kind of Post-Afghan-Rug World ... where people have long forgotten the art of crochet.
Speaking of futurist worlds - will they still have fridges in 2525? Sunday Scribblers recently did a What's In Your Fridge? theme ... January's fridge was amazingly chocka and organised. What is it with our fridge and those large litre-bottles lying on their sides you ask? Methinks it shows a badly-designed fridge without enough fat shelves. Or else, on shelves meant for the milk and juice containers, we store bottles and jars which really should be in a cupboard. (This is actually a habit I've picked up from ABM's family.) How many things do you have in your fridge, that don't need to be stored there? (I wonder if in the future all food will be dried tablets as the sci-fi writers would have us believe?)
Imagine life without a fridge. No more fridge magnet galleries.
I've handed in my notice at the Albatross Colony. Decided not to stay for the winter season. The road out there is beautiful, but also very long, turning 8.5-hour days into 10.5-hour days. The albatrosses are certainly very cool birds and I will miss catching sight of their daily wind-surfing. However, I will not miss endlessly repeating the same introductory ten-minute talk three times a day.
I have been offered a position teaching at an Early Childhood Centre and will start there in a fortnight. I'm looking forward to working with 'littlies' again and the more spontaneous, cheerful nature of the work. And I am also looking forward to having normal weekends.
Baudelaire and the Albatross Connection
A woman from France told me today that she has dreamed of seeing albatrosses ever since reading a Baudelaire poem about the albatross when she was at high school. As she is seventy-one years old now, she has waited a long time. Meeting people like her is something else I will miss when I leave the colony.
(below is one version of the poem translated.)
Often our sailors, for an hour of fun,
Catch albatrosses on the after breeze
Through which these trail the ship from sun to sun
As it skims down the deep and briny seas.
Scarce have these birds been set upon the poop,
Than, awkward now, they, the sky's emperors,
Piteous and shamed, let their great white wings droop
Beside them like a pair of idle oars.
These wingèd voyagers, how gauche their gait!
Once noble, now how ludicrous to view!
One sailor bums them with his pipe, his mate
Limps, mimicking these cripples who once flew.
Poets are like these lords of sky and cloud,
Who ride the storm and mock the bow's taut strings,
Exiled on earth amid a jeering crowd,
Prisoned and palsied by their giant wings.
— Jacques LeClercq, Flowers of Evil (Mt Vernon, NY: Peter Pauper Press, 1958)
The Plight of Albert, the Misguided Albatross
A story I like to tell the visitors to the colony is of the now-famous albatross, Albert, stuck in the wrong hemisphere after a tornado (or was it hurricane?) blew him into the wrong wind-cycle and made it impossible for him to return to his own southern hemisphere. Ever since, he has been on a fruitless search for a mate among the gannets. Here is the link for that story.
(You'd think it would be possible to have him air lifted to the right side of the world wouldn't you? I wonder why no-one does that?)
If you'd like to see the kind of thing that I have been looking at for the last few months, here is a live feed from the colony - usually showing an albatross sitting on its nest with a chick. NOTE: Northern Hemisphere readers - you'll have to look when it's light over here - so that may mean in your sleepy-time hours ... The chick is now getting to the stage where it is too big to fit under the parent and so is appearing more and more outside of the nest. The wooden boxes you see beside the nest are the predator traps - for ferrets, stoats (an animal similar to the ermine) and rats. Soon, because it's a big boy / girl now, the chick will be left alone on the nest and over the next six or seven months (through our autumn and winter) the parents will take turns to fly in and out to feed the chick a regurgitated slurry of fish, octopus and squid.