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  • Mike and Helen

No Mow May

In front of our house there is a small patch of grass and a couple of trees. It is beyond our property and the local council maintains it...usually! But the last few weeks it has looked more like a meadow with long grasses and several species of wildflowers. On local FaceBook(FB) pages we discovered that this seems to be a borough wide policy! Some people are suggesting that No Mow April and May will become Jungle June! But we quite like the ‘meadow look’. It makes good ecological sense and we will happily live without a more manicured look as long as we can see the neighbours opposite!

In one of the FB comments, someone was recalling how cleaning the car in the summer used to mean wiping a lot of dead insects off the windscreen. Not any more! Insects are on the decline and a recent TV programme highlighted their vital importance for pollinating our flowers, fruit and vegetables. Without insects we would be in serious trouble. In fact, no insects eventually will mean not only no humans but also fewer birds, fish, frogs and many other creatures which depend on insects for their nourishment. It’s time to stop noticing them only when they buzz irritatingly around our homes. We need these tiny creatures to maintain our very way of being. We need them more than ever as we see so many fields and hedgerows falling to the building contractors’ heavy diggers.

Vital to maintaining a different way of being are what Mark Oakley, Dean of St John’s College, Cambridge, calls Kinship Carers - adults who look after children whose parents are absent or incapacitated in some way. A couple of weeks ago, the Church Times carried a picture of Oakley of with his 101-year-old grandmother who stepped in to look after him when his parents divorced when he was just two. He said he never felt abandoned because she was always there to love him. Now he’s returning the compliment. Kinship Carers are currently looking after 162,000 children in England and Wales. Add to that the larger numbers of people looking after their elderly relatives rather than see them go into some sort of unsuitable residential care, and you have a veritable army of different kinds of kinship carers. Our social welfare system, already in a parlous state, would simply collapse without them.

Such caring is not without cost. It can be very isolating. It may mean that other relatives may keep their distance for fear of feeling any weight of the undoubted responsibility of being a carer. It will probably carry a financial obligation. And there may well be an emotional and mental health cost, especially for where carers are themselves lonely or unsupported. Since people often assume that it’s a ‘family obligation’, they may receive very little recognition or acknowledgement.

Compassion of all kinds, carers of all kinds are basic to the ecology, the thriving of most human communities. They provide a kind of human pollination. Others flourish because they care. In such people lies our hope. Hope against the seemingly unstoppable waves of aggression, self-interest, greed, depredations, and misunderstanding which fill our daily diet of news.

Where to find such hope? This week we saw a quotation from the American poet Mary Karr, a recovering alcoholic, whom we’d never heard of! In her book Lit: A Memoir, she describes a moment of lucidity: ‘An idea, the thread of a different perspective to any I’ve ever had…it feels as if it originates from outside me…comes in solid quiet in the midst of psychic chaos’.

Hope for the environment and for human society lies in grasping a different perspective – on insects and on people!

Photo: Mark Oakley

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