Something good will happen

The first day of winter and I emptied the food scraps after they’d reached tipping point into the compost bin in our back garden.

It’s a tedious task but on my trudge across the back garden I sense the excitement of what I will find when I lift the lid.

Even in the cold of winter the worms scramble for cover as soon as the light shines on them, their pink ridges rippling, as they fall down from what to them must be a great height.

There are all these tiny black beetles too. They line the lip of the compost bun. Some fall off and into the decaying food below while others, like a few of the stalwart worms, cling on.

I’ve been composting myself of late, up there inside my head, a sense of not much happening beyond the regular day to day and at the same time the hope that soon enough something new will emerge. 

We have another grandchild on the way and that’s new and big.

Every day I think about this baby and the awe of my family history or at least of some aspect of that history, including the timing of my own birth. 

The daughter who carries this baby is more or less the same age now as I was when I carried her, more or less the same age as my mother when she carried me. 

My mother already had four babies by the time I came along, four live babies and one dead one. And, I had already two babies living by the time this daughter who now carries her first.

The immensity of it all.

We’ve had a cold snap of late. The coldest May day in 17 years.

What’s the point of statistics like this other than to comfort us into thinking it’s not just in our imaginations that we’re colder than usual and also in some crazy way to stave off fears of climate change and the earth warming?

My husband tells me it’s going to grow more temperate soon enough and we’re in for a dry, not so cold, winter beyond these few freezing days. As if anyone, even the bureau of meteorology, can predict the future to that extent. 

I’m wary of statistics but have no doubt about climate change. Only the optimist inside tells me something good will happen. 

This is my crazy internal mantra. Whenever anything bad happens I tell myself something good will happen. Something to offset the sadness or madness or badness of recent events, like when I cop another writing rejection, or when I find myself troubled by the recent election result and a hint of despair creeps in, not for me so much as for those asylum seekers held in detention year after year. 

I can’t shake off the thought as I put a sad face to the likes section of Facebook, when yet another horror story emerges.

Over thirty people in detention have tried to kill themselves since the election. 

An expression of sorrow or anger is not enough. 

And my mind pitches back into the past before I was born when news of what was happening to the Jewish people in Europe during the early 1940s must have trickled through the limited media of the day.

And people closed their minds to the atrocity, to the unthinkable, just as we are doing today. 

Because we feel helpless or don’t want to know. Life is hard enough without having to add the extra burden of those in trouble. And these days we have so much exposure. 

I think of what’s happening in America. The banning of abortions in Alabama and Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Talerears its head. An unthinkable future in a world that is Taliban dominated or a world in which the extreme right-wing conservative elements that breed racism and misogyny dominate in face of the fears of change. 

‘Let’s try to turn the clock back,’ these largely middle aged and old while males, say, for fear of losing their entrenched privilege. Let’s keep women back in the position of servants and let’s not let those other people whose skin is not white have too much of a say in the running of our countries. 

Let’s keep the other out. The other is a threat to the status quo. Let’s not think too much about the need to adjust to a changing world in terms of climate change because a changed world is one to which we need adjust and it’s hard enough growing old. 

It’s hard enough having to adjust to the rapid rate of technological change. The things the young people can do with their computers and gadgets that leave us far behind.

Let’s do our best to keep things as they were in the good old days. 

Of course, that doesn’t work. Change is our one great certainty. 

The worms wriggle off the walls in the compost pin whenever I pitch in an extra load and soon enough the bin will be full and I will need to let it sit a while longer till it composts and then we’ll tip it over the garden and it will enrich the soil to make way for new growth like this new baby who will soon enough enter our midst. 

8 thoughts on “Something good will happen”

  1. Beautiful, moving post, Lis. From compost to generations of a family, to climate, to atrocities, back to compost. The layers are being eaten by the worms, earth wisdom, under all.

  2. I studied statistics at college. Expected to enjoy it because I’ve always loved sums but I never took to it. The maths side of it was fine but I quickly realised presentation is everything. The numbers may not lie but their honesty can be called into question and all you need is to sow the seeds of doubt, step back and let nature take its course. I just looked up the word “troglodyte” to help me respond to Ken Armstrong’s latest post. I didn’t realise the word used to be synonymous with “hermit” but I can see why. The older I get the more troglodytal I find myself becoming, in both the old-fashioned way and the current. I’ve never been a huge fan of change but the older I get the less and less I find myself willing to engage with it. I’m not going to be here for that much longer, not when you think of the grand scheme of things (if there is such a thing), fifteen, maybe twenty years, so let others get on with it. Nothing I can do about it anyway. Poets never changed the world, even those people read. Change is very had to, well… change. I sit in my cave and if something passes by the entrance I take note of it for a moment or two and then it’s gone. I don’t go out in the cold looking for bad news. It’s safe in my cave. I remember a while back ordinary people being interviewed about global issues and all of them came up with science-will-do-this-or-that answers and then the scientists got to explain why none of that was going to happen any day soon or even ever. If humanity has one common flaw it’s an unflagging (and unwarranted) optimism. Hope is all well and good if the statistics support it. But what are the odds humanity will ruin the earth and they’re not good odds. A shame. Maybe the whatever-the-one-percent-of-cockroaches-that-survive-us-evolve-into will have better luck next time.

    1. It sounds a bit grim, Jim. And I suppose it helps your state of mind, if you can stay protected in your hermit ways. I fear I too am something of a hermit though not as pronounced as you. And I cannot help but let the news of the world affect me, and worry me. Maybe it’s the existence of grandchildren that make a difference. I want them to have a decent future. My children too. But even without children or grandchildren, I expect I’d like to leave something decent behind. Thanks Jim

  3. I’ve read you for years, Elisabeth, commented infrequently. I believe I’m about ten years ahead of you, or more. I’m past seeing grandchildren into the world. I’m past having hope for this world I championed in the sixties and seventies. I’m just ready to leave.

    1. That sounds sad, Joanne. Is it despair of change or simply weariness? One of my aunts used to say when she got to her eighties, ‘I am the oldest person alive.’ She too wanted to go. Whereas my mother who lived till she was 94 wanted to live well beyond 100. Thanks Joanne.

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