Many changes with come from our current crisis, one of the positive ones being, hopefully, a decline in the amount of unnecessary voyaging and an appreciation of what we can find in our immediate surroundings.
Nick Papadimitriou, a London observer and walker invented the phrase: Deep Topography for this sort of studying of one's 'patch'. In his case, London is a massive stamping ground but I imagine even during lockdown he will still be using his allowed out time to explore in ever more depth.
I've been reading a rather intake-of-breath book recently by Aurélien Barrau, a mind-numbingly intelligent French physicist and philosopher, in which he lays down the facts - verified by his numerous scientist friends - about where we are heading on this particular capitalist trajectory. Doom, basically. And as you read, you know it to all be true, (despite what certain maniacs in power spout) - the rapid decline in all species, the melting ice, every type of pollution, and on and on...
I started reading before the Covid emergency and had put the book to one side, it all being too bleak to contemplate. Now I'm reading it again with rather different eyes. Our current situation feels ever more like a warning from the planet.
He compares at one point a plane journey to get to a destination to experience life, and then compares it to life within a square meter of an average fairly healthy bit of meadow, in all its minute complexity. I'm not suggesting we should turn our daily existences into a kind of conceptual art and only move within a meter, but we could start to explore own own 'patches' more profoundly.
Not yer average astrophysicist... Monsieur Barrau.
The day before yesterday, the lad and dogs and I went on a walk to discover a bit of the town's surroundings we had never been to. Difficult, one might imagine after living in the same place for eighteen years or so. But, no. There it was, a small grassy lane leading up a hillside, which didn't in fact go as far as we would have liked but we saw beautiful blossom, an interesting shack, bright orange insects and a new view of the town.
We did it again yesterday, on foot from the house and up a road which we normally take in the car to get to an interesting vantage point and favourite walk. This time, as we were on foot and were noticing things in detail, we took a previously overlooked small road to the left, followed a track up a hill and were suddenly in a beautiful area of moss, lichen, gorse, dappled sunlight and huge old pine trees. The path continued, and conveniently ended up making a good twenty minute loop back to the main road.
Today, Mark and I took a more familiar walk past the currently shut station, past the currently shut restaurant de la Gare, and on through a twenties and thirties housing estate - a great place for observing French front garden style - and then into Limoux centre via the river walk. No one out anywhere except a few people sitting well-spaced in the square looking mournfully at the closed cafés - usually constantly open, even on Christmas Day. Weird. Although, oddly, rather wonderful too. The sky is occupied only by birds, wild flowers and grasses remain on all verges, and a car passing is a rare thing...
A few pictures from yesterday's and today's local wanderings.
New hillside vantage-point
Magnificent palm tree and newly painted balcony
Deserted back streets (apart from us and two dogs)
the rather lovely fire station petrol pump