22 Feb 2016

22nd February 2016 Hail floats.

Monday 22nd 35-38F, 2-3C, breezy, rather cloudy but with clear areas of sky. Sunshine and showers promised with 15m/s, 30mph gusts later. My tinnitus has turned to white [pink] noise instead of a deafening whistle. Ever onwards.

I'm not sure exactly why but I find this particular landscape immensely satisfying. Sometimes it is decorated with scruffy cattle but not today. Not in midwinter. The scene has a timeless quality yet it is remarkably difficult to stop and enjoy as the heavy traffic thunders by. Is such a scene desirable as a private view from a window? Or does it quickly grow stale? I know I could not live just there however much I was paid. Nor do I care how much the "property" might be worth. Traffic is never a blessing except perhaps to the elderly lacking any other stimulus. I could no longer live in the city. Multi-million homes utterly blighted by traffic. Further blighted by lawnmowers, shouting yobs, dogs and sirens. A worse, non-living hell on earth would be hard to imagine.

I once lived on the edge of a city which stretched out below me. There was never a time, day or night, when the sound of distant traffic ceased. Does one ever stop listening to a local weir or waterfall? Or to the sound of the waves? Can one become benignly deaf to traffic through long exposure? Does the constant movement and unwanted sounds ever become quiet in the mind? A city is a wonderful convenience for one reason alone. It keeps the hordes well away from the peace of my countryside. Where even a clangorous church bell is welcomed only for its great distance. To remind me how incredibly fortunate I am not to be blessed with enough wealth, nor self-importance, to want to live in a city. Crushed together, cheek by jowl, with all and sundry.

Traffic and car ownership are a collective insanity. The big con, that expensive, individualized, personal transport offers privacy, the utmost convenience and wind-in-the-hair independence. One which, in reality, provides an average speed slower than any jogger or elderly cyclist while offering only shelter from the rain.

Escape to "the countryside" is to sit in an even longer queue. With slightly larger gaps between vehicles usually all carrying only one person. Commuting is the main purpose of car ownership. Diving every day to one's place of employment. Probably the last place on earth you would ever go unless you were rewarded for turning up. So, basically, you are paying for  a car to go to work to earn enough to pay for a car...?

An utterly selfish system of transport which provides the completely insane idea that overtaking one vehicle [usually illegally] will offer you some new-found freedom of the road. When, in reality, your "dice with death" only breaks the monotony of staring at the back of the same vehicle for a moment longer. To be instantly replaced with yet another. Do people speed for excitement? Or just to get the damned journey over with? What does that say about car ownership and the mobility devices on offer?

You think your car expresses anything about you? Try standing next to a manufacturer's storage yard. Your "uniquely yours" choice of accessories and finishes [at even greater expense] is almost indistinguishable from any other, or a far worse choice! Your choice of vehicle is exactly as prescribed by your income and social class. Where is the freedom of choice in that?  Keep taking the blue pill. The nurse will be along any moment now. ;o))

My walk in bright sunshine and an eye-watering wind was interrupted by hail. I could see the huge cloud coming over the horizon with its wet skirts dragging darkly across the landscape. It seems I might escape as it passed further north of me and a strange fog obscured my familiar rural views. Soon it was beating me about the ears and forming drifts against the verge. I tried to remember when I was last caught out on my morning walks but could not. Hail floats on water and huddles together in rafts. I wondered why I had never noticed this before. I knew that ice floats because it is less dense and surface tension will  cause huddling. But hail on puddles? When did that start? Every day is a surprise when you're an old fart. The Coots are taking up residence on their traditional ponds. Calling loudly as if to claim possession. The hedges are suddenly full of hyper-active Great tits. The sun has returned, not a cloud to be seen and all is well with my world. For the moment..

Having used up my quota of sunshine in the garden it turned wet in the afternoon. No ride today.

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