from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Saturday, 14 May 2011

social media, stellar time and Rippon Tor

Well, I think it's time to admit that I'm two-timing you; no, wait, three-timing you. As all my friends know, I'm a Luddite who is anxious about virtual communication displacing fleshly togetherness (that sounds a bit ugh) and time outdoors; and who swears she'd rather be out with her notebook, or with her hands in the soil, than on the computer. As all my friends know, too, I spend the larger part of many of my days on the computer...

Never had a TV, until moving in with The Man; and we never think to watch it. Clear of that vice. BUT: first it was the Amstrad (remember those?). Then the Mac (3). Then the mobile. Then the website. Then the blog. Now I have actually been on a whole day workshop where I had to face up to my deep resistance to social media: a kind of Alcoholics Anonymous for electronic aversives. We wept. We confessed. We shared. We empathised. We talked about our histories. We wept a bit more. We caved in. And how I have caved in! As we all know, the cure for arachniphobia is facing the spiders. So yes, it's true: I have a facebook account. And heaven forbid I tweet... next, LinkedIn. Desperate times call for desperate measures...


Yesterday, after a stressful week (not least because of this infidelity to my principles), I took time out that I didn't have, but found anyway.

Let me take you on a little trip up near Buckland-in-the-Moor - fourth time this year after twenty years having no reason to go there! - and then towards Haytor and Hound Tor. It is one of those days of scudding clouds and fleeting light slicking the moor's broad shoulders. This edge of Dartmoor, the mid-eastern edge, is treed, and the lanes are tiny and twisting and lined with beautiful granite boulders, currently sprouting campions and stitchwort and bluebells. At Hemsworthy Gate you park up (at this point the hound is barely containing her excitement). Ahead of you is a small herd of Dartmoor mares and a stallion; very new foals with bottlebrush tails, who gallop away from the cars jolting over the cattle grid (the cars jolt, not the foals) on awkward rocking-horse stilty legs. Go through a narrow wooden gate with Rippon Tor ahead of you. The path between bracken and granite boulders is studded with the royal blue eyes of chalky milkwort, and already the fruits are forming among the russet/gold/green leaves of the tiny blueberry bushes. Below you is a herd of the little belted Galloway cattle that do well on the moor. As you ascend, the ocean over towards Torquay is clearly visible, as are the red ploughed fields of the South Hams. We've had a haycut already - in some places a whole month ago, almost unprecedented, so some fields are shaven and golden. Now turn - and Oh! - a spill of light over on Hound Tor and the whole eastern flank of HT is purpled with bluebells! Another bubble of joy rises. A pair of blackcaps flits across. The tor looms ahead, and there's a strong northwesterly at this height. Climb the rocks, and carry on towards the east, where there are a couple of - I think Bronze Age - cairns. Below you the South Hams spread, languid in the spring light. Nearer, flushed acid green, is a copse of beech newly in leaf.

If I hadn't broken my camera and my mobile was more than the bottomest-of-the-range I'd send you a photo or ten.

That rock, yes, that long flat one, roughly 5'3", hunkered down amongst turf and eyebright: perfect. Lie and look at the stars that are not visible but you know are there. Count back through time – all that time the light has been travelling to reach you, fragment of stardust that you (literally) are. Money worries? Work worries? Time worries? Relationship worries? Family worries? Perspective girl, that's what you need. Stellar time – sidereal time...

Hound rests her head on your stomach. No rush. No stress. No I you it he she they we... just – this.

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