Parks under threat.

With local councils under threats from budget cuts our parks are in danger. Reduced funding and threats of spaces being sold off are real. These spaces can not be got back once sold as real estate. Read the article and please sign the petition if you would like to see your parks protected. Green spaces are important for our children as well as our mental health. Don’t let them go.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/20/parks-at-risk-green-campaigners-launch-crowdsourcing-study

The petition.

https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/1355

 

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Quiet as the grave

Yesterday went for a little walk to the shops with Alice. We walked past Southgate Cemetery, which I haven’t investigated yet. Graveyards are usually excellent spots for wildlife, normally filled with birds and often squirrels and other small mammals. There is often an excellent variety of fungal activity with fairy rings being common. However yesterday it was obviously too cold for anything to want to move. Apart from the obligatory graveyard crow there was no sign of life, which believe it or not is actually unusual in a graveyard. Lots of bird song, but few visible.

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There was however signs that wildlife is being provided for with a number of batboxes and bird boxes around the site.

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Walking the graveyard reminded me of the Buddhist practise of reflecting on death, so it seemed like a good time to consider the five remembrances as detailed by Thich Nhat Hanh.

I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health.
There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are the nature to change.

There is no way to escape
being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.

My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

What may seem like gloomy statements on first read actually bring much solace as understanding comes through reflection. Without an acceptance of our impermanence progress towards happiness would be hard.

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Returning home Alice is really making progress with trying to stand. She is a very determined young lady. Doesn’t want help. She may well be off and walking before 9 months at the rate she’s going. She’s crawling, but doesn’t seems to consider it undignified, so is pushing for walking instead.

In the evening I released the first of the tiger moths we had been studying in school. We’ve seen them through from caterpillar to moth. I’m not convinced that their getting the sustenance they need from the suggested sugar water. They may not last long out in the wild this time of year, but they can at least have a taste of freedom.

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Buddhist advice for turbulent times

Yesterday I finished reading Pema Chodron’s book when things fall apart. This has been sitting in my kindle library for a while as a cheap purchase a while back.

Her writing had been recommended a number of times but I’d never given it a go. As life has been pretty good I hadn’t seen much need to read it, but came across it in my library having just finished one book. As a quick read I thought I’d give it a go and I’m glad I did.

Much of the focus of the book was on dealing with fears and difficult times through the Buddhist concept of loving kindness. First through love for yourself then widening to love everyone.

There was one passage that stood out as relevant to our current turbulent times. With uncertainty in America under Trump, Teresa May threatening to abolish the human rights act and more threats to the environment than anyone can track this stood out:

Times are difficult globally; awakening is no longer a luxury or an ideal. It’s becoming critical. We don’t need to add more depression, more discouragement, or more anger to what’s already here. It’s becoming essential that we learn how to relate sanely with difficult times. The earth seems to be beseeching us to connect with joy and discover our innermost essence. This is the best way that we can benefit others.

 

Pema Chodron-when things fall apart (1997)

Though written a decade back this advice has only become more poignant. The book was a good read going beyond the premise of the book with how to enlarge your own loving kindness and many interesting meditation techniques. It will be a book I’ll return too.

There has been some excellent advice on dealing with events of the last year from a Buddhist perspective but I hadn’t quite worked out my own way of moving on.

Jack Cornfield article

Buddhist responses to Trump

For me sitting back isn’t an option. I will continue trying to be a positive force within this world, pushing back against negativity and trying to do what I can to make a difference. Through loving kindness to myself and others around me, through my efforts to help the environment, through my work as a teacher.

I will finish with a favourite quote:

Be the change you wish to see in the world

Mahatma Gandhi.

Ladybird, ladybird fly away home.

Last week I reported finding a number of ladybird pupa on the leaves in my garden. I’ve been keeping an eye on them and yesterday I found several had emerged. 

The empty pupa

As I had suspected from the pupa they have all been harlequin ladybirds. Harlequins come in a variety of forms with spots and colours varying.

Harlequin’s are an invasive species out competing our native species of ladybird. They have a bigger apetite and can eat more aphids in a sitting than most UK native varieties. They also eat eggs of other ladybird species of moths and butterflies. 

Originally an Asian native they were introduced to the US to control aphid numbers. They spread quickly dominating similar species. It is thought they were accidently spread to the UK either transported within produce or blown across from mainland  Europe. Once here in 2004 they spread rapidly.

More info here: http://www.harlequin-survey.org

So it always comes with mixed feelings when I sight a harlequin. On the one hand, as a beetle lover, it’s good to see a variety of ladybird do well when many are not. I know they’ll eat many of the aphids in the garden. But on the other they may be doing well at the expense of other insects I like.

If sighted you can report them here so the spread can be monitored.

Some scientists have pushed that invasive species can be positive bringing variety that may be able to survive as mankind destroys our world. The theory had faults but worth considering.

Article here
A few more photos of the harlequins. Whether they are destructive or not they certainly have a beauty.