“Such refugia tend to be in more topographically varied areas where species can ‘move round to the cooler side of the hill’ etc because there is a larger range of microclimates.” – Humphrey Crick
We are used to searching for the coolest part of the garden, the house, even the bed.
It’s a hot topicality we take in our packs back to the fens, where there’s always potential for a pitiless deep fire that will drive us from hearth and home. Who keeps to the places they know and love, never dislodged? Those of us managing to stay ahead of the increase, lifting higher up the hill,
or one step ahead — away from the afternoon sun, perched or huddled under a rocky ledge,
altering our orientation as the rays mark the calendar? Or in some Schlaraffenland, climbing beyond a summit, making celestial the cairn or survey peg. In the steps up the graph, I trip over the longhorns and the lacewings, imitating their movements in diverse places, watching and counting, as if I’ve a right to petition familiarity. This stroll across the campus of realpolitik and pragmatics as costly as a chill caught up in the rare snow on Bluff Knoll in the Southwest Australian Stirling Ranges — a photo op for some, for others ‘nature’s fridge’
for a beer, and for others a ghost to hide behind as Africa records its highest temperature in Algeria.
Each peak we pond hop — such voyages of exploration! And the birds we follow no longer able to drag our weight.
How do poems come out of conversations, and become conversations in themselves — generative exchanges? Well, one has to start a conversation first. And here’s a fragment of my first ‘explanation’ to Humphrey Crick: I have been recording birds and other ‘wildlife’ in my poetry, along with climate (literally - rainfall, heat, winds etc) for decades (since the late 1970s), and sadly my poetry is like a map of environmental catastrophe. Poetry as record, which I guess might segue with your keeping ‘scientific records’/data regarding climate change and loss.
Humphrey responded (in part) with: “I started work on climate change when, back in the late 1990s, as a researcher at the British Trust for Ornithology, I had started a process whereby we started to report back on all the huge volumes of data that our volunteers sent back on the nesting of birds. The Nest Record Scheme receives something like 30-40,000 records of individual nests each year and, up until that point, had not really reported back on trends. When the result came off the computer (a big old 1980s movie-type one with large whirling tapes) it gradually dawned on me that there was