Legends from our own lunchtimes

Friday, January 08, 2010


The pond is alive at the moment, another lotus flower will be at its glorious peak today.   Their subtlety is an extraordinary contrast to the vivid blues and yellows of the water lilies on the surface, and our little native bees are going gangbusters flitting between them all.

I must buy the timber to build a new hive today, ours is now long overdue for a split.

As I sit and watch it all a cloud descends.   It's not black or dark or the sort of cloud that makes one perpetually sad or melancholy, but it is none the less a cloud with the merest hint of those ingredients, a whiff of sadness round its edges perhaps.

While wondering about all that, and what picture to post for today, Sue phoned and told us about solistalgia, and our world of hitherto inexplicable emotions suddenly had an explanation;
"It's the homesickness you feel when you're still at home."

… the distress caused by the lived experience of the transformation of one’s home and sense of belonging and is experienced through the feeling of desolation about its change. [snip]
The diagnosis of solastalgia is based on the recognition of the distress within an individual or a community about the loss of ‘endemic sense of place’ and the loss of a sense of control of its destiny.
In essence, solastalgia is the sadness caused by environmental change.
The concept was created by Glenn Albrecht, a professor at the School of Environmental and Life Sciences at the University of Newcastle, after he noticed the depression amongst rural farmers in drought-stricken lands. The drought had caused increased workloads, debt, and fear about future security — and, interestingly, the small changes in their own front yards formed powerful triggers and metaphors for their despair. Albrecht’s studies showed that farmer women would be enormously more upset over the loss of their gardens than their mortgage or income. (“Losing a garden is often quite dramatic,” as a colleague noted. “It’s often the only thing that’s between them and a vast landscape of dust.”)

That's exactly it!  "The loss of a sense of control over it's destiny".

It has a name, it's definitely how we feel, but I still don't understand how we have allowed ourselves to succumb to such an illogical malady. "Despair" is not how we feel admittedly, far from that, but we are acutely aware that we are seeing the last season of our frangipani blooms, and that the already vacant houses in our street and the next are starting to show the first signs of unkemptness as our community crumbles before our eyes.

Perhaps when someone actually makes a decision, removing our uncertainty, these feelings will pass.

Roll on Tuesday.

Social Scorecard 2010:
Day No: 8
Nights at Home: 8
Days Without Visitors: 4


Joan Elizabeth said...

Pete, I just realised I don't have a link to this blog in my sidebar and missed these posts. I will come back and read the lot tonight ... This is an very moving article, I need some time to absorb the sadness of it.

Julie said...

Yes, most moving. I am so proud that you posted it. I did wonder what "solistalgia" was when you mentioned it in your comment. I went into the dictionary rather than google. Silly me.

I like this piece very much, it is personal, it is detailed and it is real. Especially when you bring in the creeping decay from other streets.

I wonder if a "ceremony of mourning" would help. Everyone must be contending with similar feeling, maybe not those who have already departed. But you and Jo, and the others still there. You need a ceremony to bid farewell to something that you love and held a big sway over your emotions for so long.

Do not flay yourself for falling prey to an illogical malady. Do not compare how you are feeling with other folk who might be considered to be in more dire circumstances. Everything is relative. But nonetheless, everything is real.

Take some of the precious parts of your land, bark, leaves, dirt, flowers, feathers and build a small pyre and float it out onto the river and watch as it floats down and out forever.

Thinking of the two of you now and throughout Tuesday.

Joan Elizabeth said...

Ok as promised I have come back and read all the posts ... wondering if recording it isn't adding to your melancholy ... though I like the daily diary ... I guess that is what the Burnbrae journal is to me but I'm not bidding our bit of paradise farewell.

To get perspective I tried imagining how I would feel if someone was going to flatten this place ... felt nasty ... so I stopped.

cara said...

Lump in my throat. Ace blog, Peter.

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