End Time Blues

It’s been a strange few weeks since the witches soared on Samhain night. At times it appears that we are watching the end of the world unravel before us, and then some small incident will provide a spark of hope and light. I think we should try to take more notice of those little things – the family reunited, a lost wallet returned, the Christmas dinner cooked and served by volunteers.

But it’s hard – the sheer volume of the negative swamps all the other messages. I confess to being a bit of a news junkie, and I tend to read and watch and listen to a lot more than I probably need. The 24-hour news cycle results in the same stories rotating, and each repetition simply entrenches that issue more firmly in the mind. I don’t “do” social media to any great extent – I have no Facebook or Instagram pages, and am not part of Twitter – but I do use my phone and e-mail and of course have this webpage. Even as a minimalist pseudo-Luddite on the edges of the technosphere it is hard to ignore all the stories with which we are inundated on an hourly basis. I was moved by this dawning comprehension to put pen to paper and compose a little ditty. I can’t write (or play!) a note but if anyone wants to set these words to music, I’ll split the royalties:

There’s Brexit and Impeachment
And the Australian fires of hell;
There’s a cyclone in the Philippines
And the Amazon burns as well.

The ice caps are all melting
We’re told climate change is not to blame;
It’s flooding in old Venice
And there are ashes by the Seine.

We’re getting ready for the Apocalypse
But when you listen to the news;
It seems it got here early
And I’ve got the End Times blues.

There’s school shootings and car crashes
And an oil spill on the lake;
Our numbers just keep rising
How much more can this earth take?

They legalized old Mary Jane
In the hope we’d tune life out;
But the voices of the teenagers
Are rising in a shout.

We’re getting ready for the Apocalypse
But when you listen to the news;
It seems it got here early
And I’ve got the End Times blues.

Of course, it’s not all as bad as this really, is it? I honestly don’t know. In my little part of the world we are certainly seeing some more severe weather events than we have known in the past. The traditional seasonal patterns appear to be changing, with a longer and wetter spring followed by a longer and drier summer. The fall has seen some intense storms, Erin and Dorian being the biggest in terms of infrastructure damage and economic impact. The forecast is for a heavy snow season through the early part of the New Year, but any suggestion that this is driven by CO2 levels in the atmosphere is tempered by the older generation commenting that this is “the kind of winter we used to have”. So, at my local level, perhaps things are not horrendously bad.

And then I get a Christmas letter from a friend who lives on the east coast of Australia, where the fires are burning out of control and the air quality index of Sydney is now the worst in the world. Sydney, that perfect city, with the white sails of the Opera House and the golden sands of Bondi, now smothered in smog. It seems that Beijing and New Delhi have found a way to outsource their reputations for having the world’s worst air pollution.

It’s not all about climate, of course. I get phone calls and text messages from friends in the UK or the US, inquiring in a “just joking – honest” way about how to get a visa to come and live in Canada. There is bloodshed on the streets of Santiago, Chile, which when we were there in April was reported to be one of the most livable cities in South America. In Colombia, a friend is spending Christmas trying to help her neighbours, families of Venezuelan refugees who are living in the house next door and who are part of a diaspora that rarely makes our northern news. So, at those local levels, perhaps things aren’t very bright at all.

I am afraid I have no answers to these conundrums. Does one simply turn off all the newsfeeds and pretend nothing is happening? Is that better than being overwhelmed with the daily gloom – and recognizing how difficult life must be for the younger generations, who are looking to a most uncertain future. But in the absence of answers, perhaps there is action.

My response was to dry a selection of pole beans, various heritage varieties which I grew over the summer. I’ve put a medley of them together in little jars, 100g in each, and am selling them at the Christmas Craft Market as Apocalixir Beans. The basic premise is that if the Zombie Apocalypse comes, one can hide in the basement and cook the beans and live on them, the elixir of life, until things quieten down. And if there is no Zombie Apocalypse by June, you can plant them in your garden and grow your own crop for next year. It’s only a small response to the chaos around us, but it does make people smile. I sell them at $3.50 a jar, five jars for a cow.

Fe fo fi fum!

With best wishes for the holiday season, and for the new decade ahead.


One thought on “End Time Blues

  1. Tim Thanks very much for sharing your message; full of insights, You are a remarkable person; sensitive to nuance and keenly reflective, You are admittedly human; drawn to newsfeeds selected to sell rather than report, Your images are striking: Apocalixir Beans,  Your poetry is riveting; struggling with an avalanche of human violations,  And your friendship is constant; from your heart, not geographical proximity. Merry Christmas and a fulfilling 2020 to you and your family. Tom and Susan 


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