Saturday Evening Post #74 :A New World

“A Solitary Crow
In Winter snow
Needs no jewels”
Deng Ming-Dao

As a young lad, I watched, “Disaster Movies”, or read books that one way or another predicted, or pretended the “End of the World”, the lone hero/ine stranded, alone.  “War of the Worlds”, “The Day of the Triffids, “Panic”, “On the Beach”.
But never dreaming that perhaps one day, I would, with those around me, live in times of significant social, community and national change. On a scale that is impossible to grasp.

When I was a little lad, Neville Shute’s novel, “On the Beach” carried on its dust jacket a quote from
“The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot.

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

It would be many years later, that I would be able to appreciate the depth of Eliot’s work.
As a country lad, our family would travel to Melbourne over the summer school holidays, and as best my young memory can recall is that somewhere or other in Frankston, or thereabouts part of the movie was filmed.  It was the talk of the dining table of our extended family at the time.  We used to swim at Frankston Beach, and explore along the cliffs toward Mount Martha.
And if I’m not stretching the memory too far, the making of the movie would have featured on the then fledgling tv news.
So much so that I recall our collection of kids, played at “Making Movies” that summer.
The female lead, Ava Gardener is  purported to have described Melbourne as “the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world.” However it seems it was an enthusiastic Sydney copywriter who made up the quote.

It’s hard then as we face, “Self-Isolation”, “Social Distancing”, our personal hell of “4 metre square”, and the impossible task of finding Toilet Paper to grasp the huge changes thrust upon us. Perhaps not the end of the world, but I hope we all manage to come out the other side, safe, secure and with minimal loss.

Which brings me back to the Crow in the Snow.

Meng writes ,”A single crow standing unconcerned in the falling snow is the very image of independence. It needs, no clothing, no wealth, nor status.”

Readers will know I have quite the affinity for White-winged Choughs.  Not the independent bird of Meng’s meditation, but rather a community dependent bird. Their feeding as a group, their closeness with their young birds, the difficulties they face keeping their young together, and not losing to the family in the next territory, and their patient purposeful feeding always bring a smile to my face whenever I get to enjoy an encounter.

This bird, I’d guess to be a female, it and half a dozen or so of its  family were working along the downed logs foraging, but not eating.  Then when it seemed all had full beaks, they turned and all flew off.
“They have a nest somewhere and are feeding young”, EE observed.  And no doubt she was right.  We might on other occasions taken the time to follow them and see, but other duties called, and we left with their calls ringing through the Grey Box Forest.

Remain