On Thursday I strolled around the centre of Manchester bare legged, bare armed, sun hat and sunglasses on! Today out on my run I met a fisherman (a number of them fish the old millpond I run past most days) who was all wrapped up against the cold and told me it had been snowing earlier. I was not up for the snow: still tucked up in my bed at that point. Towards the end of the morning there were hailstones and I was sorely tempted to turn the heating up a few degrees. My grandson tells me that they had thunder and lightning close enough to his school to cause power cuts, annoyingly preventing them from using computers. We have also had periods of rather chilly sunshine.
Whether this is part of the natural cycle of weather (as one of my scientist friends maintains) or a consequence of global warming (as another scientist friend maintains) I really could not say. But I can say that I am not impressed!
However, the year is getting along. I saw my first bluebells of this year when I was running this morning and there are buds on the plants in my garden. All set for a riot of wildflower garden colour before we head off for Galicia in a few weeks time.
According to some scientists, volcanoes and earthquakes are also affected by seasonal changes and slight alterations in the earths rotation as well as by global warming and melting ice sheets. Sheets of ice weigh a lot and hold down the tectonic plates to some extent. As the ice melts, the plates spring back to where they were before and so we have more volcanic activity and more earthquakes. I wonder if this also explains the huge sink holes that have appeared in recent years!
I have been reading about volcanoes because our daughter has been preparing a super-duper lesson on this topic for her final teaching practice and I have been one of her main sounding boards to bounce ideas off. I hope her class of 7 to 8 year-olds enjoy all this stuff. I don't remember learning such things when I was that age. If we did, most likely our teacher would have stood at the front and told us about them. Or she might have given us books to read and made us copy chunks out. Nowadays they have to do much more practical stuff, building models of volcanoes and cutting up hard boiled eggs which are meant to symbolise the various bits of the earth and its composition. Perhaps they should really do a cross section of a soft-boiled egg so that the centre could be nicely molten. This would, of course, make for a much messier lesson.
How did my generation ever learn all the stuff we know without all this hands-on education?
I find myself asking similar "how did we" questions about all sorts of things. For example, this morning I read that expectant mothers are advised not to drink organic milk or UHT milk as they contain less iodine than ordinary pasteurised milk. Iodine is necessary for brain development in the growing foetus so mothers who change to organic milk could be harming their babies. (So there's another guilt trip for mothers!) But surely mothers were drinking unpasteurised "whole" milk for centuries before pasteurisation came along. Does this mean we are all cleverer now? Imagine what Leonardo Da Vinci could have achieved had his mother drunk pasteurised milk during pregnancy! He would probably have actually built that flying machine!
And then I read that they been giving dairy cows supplements to make milk and other dairy products the main source of iodine in our diet in the UK. Other countries apparently add it to salt or bread. What else do the various governments do to the food we buy? Big Brother is not only watching us but adding stuff to our food, rather like soma, the happiness drug doled out in Orwell's 1984. When will they discover something they can surreptitiously add to our food to prevent or at least combat obesity?
I almost begin to understand those who want to go off and live self-sufficiently on a little patch of land where they grow all their own stuff and rear a few cows and hens.