October 2012

As Summer gently slips into Autumn and leaves turn a deeper shade of red each day, it is to me a sign the October has arrived. I find October something of a strange month, something of a transitional month like March in reverse. Weather-wise, October can greatly vary from year to year, sometimes warm with lengthening shadows, other times wet and windy with storms. October is a time when holidays have become distant pleasant memories, Harvest Festivals are done and dusted, the long break of the Silly Season is also over. All these are recent events now finished to be replaced by the daily bombardment of political speeches, often full of empty rhetoric and equally empty promises as the trade union and political party conference season gets underway. Politician after politician will stand on rostrums throughout the country offering yet another all curing panacea to whatever they perceive ails the country, before once more disappearing into relative obscurity.

Slightly unusually this year both the Olympics and Paralympics have played part in disrupting many peoples normal schedules. I was six years old when they last took place in this country and I suspect it will be many, many years before they ever return. We can now only wait and see as the hyperbole dies away, if all the promises made about “The Olympic Legacy” come to fruition.

To me October also allows one to reflect on recent history and certainly weather has played an important part in all our lives. Rain, rain, rain I think is what most of us will remember. Rain seemingly non-stop since May. It is hard to believe prior to then, all the pundits of doom were talking about severe water shortages and rationing.

The weather pattern this year seems to have followed a similar trend to the previous two. A short unseasonal hot spell in Spring or earlier, followed by prolonged rain and bad weather for the remainder of the Summer. It’s almost like the seasons have started to shift round their allotted time slot in the calendar. Flooding has badly effected most counties in one way or another in the previous few months. Crops have been ruined or completely lost. In Somerset where I live, the cider industry is badly effected with yields in the apple crop down by about two-thirds. It is inevitable that the forces of supply and demand will mean dearer prices for food. What I always notice is how once prices have risen, how slowly the fall, if at all, once the supply situation improves.

No doubt the pundits will be out in force blaming everything on global warming. Politicians will probably quickly get on the band-waggon as an excuse for introducing even more “greener than before” taxes. In the meantime rather than accept that mother nature normally does remarkably well in regularising weather patterns, those that think somehow mankind has a divine right to control global weather, emerge in force as if somehow they now have a licence to do so. The latest serious theory I have heard put forward is to capture a large asteroid, pulverise it to dust, (I assume with an atomic explosion), and then let the resultant dust cloud envelop the earth to act as a heat shield.

When I picked myself off the floor from laughing at this serious proposal, I could not help but recall how often mankind’s previous attempts to dabble in the environment and ecology resulted in bigger problems than originally existed. In Australia for instance, numbers of invasive creatures, fungi, diseases and parasites have either been introduced into the country or arrived by other means. Although the living or growing habits of creatures or species are often well understood in their own native environment, in new surroundings with a lack of natural predators, often things do not go to plan. Consequently some of the problems Australia now faces include, Invasive bees, tramp ants, citrus canker and so on. Even here in Somerset, man is attempting to disrupt nature with a highly emotive badger cull on the grounds of eradicating T.B.. I still recall the disastrous effects of Myxomatosis in the UK in the 1950’s. The disease was first artificially introduced in France in 1952. Within one year it had spread throughout Europe including the UK and by 1955, 95% of UK rabbits were dead.

It’s strange how October can conjure up all these thoughts and memories.

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