Here we are in week whatever-it-is of self isolation. The grocery stores are slowly coming back to normal but many small businesses (dress shops and the like) have closed. I suppose without customers it costs too much to stay open. And while places like nail salons and massage parlours are closed, hairdressers here can stay open. Since I was starting to look like the Mad Woman of the Moors I took myself off to my hairdresser. I wore my mask (see above) and she wore hers She sprayed my hands with sanitiser and while she cut we discussed how many people in our town are not taking this thing seriously. And that’s interesting because most of her clientele are of the older persuasion. After she’d finished the cut and I got up to go she sprayed the work surfaces and the chair with disinfectant. We kept each other as safe as we could.
The same thing can’t be said in other parts of the world. What’s happening in the USA is particularly disturbing. Tired of being stuck inside and out of work, mobs are forming in cities demanding an end to the lock-down. That’s stupid enough on its own – but these people bring along signs saying things like ‘my body my choice’, others carry Confederate flags and even Nazi flags, and quite a few tote their semi-automatic weapons. Then they block roads to hospitals with their vehicles.
It’s crazy on so many levels. ‘My body my choice’ sounds like something to do with abortion – which is, indeed, a very private choice for a woman. But it’s not appropriate if we’re talking about spreading germs to vulnerable people because some idiot doesn’t care. The irony is that plenty of these people are likely to be anti-abortion. So it’s wrong to kill a fetus but okay to cause the death of a thirty-year-old with diabetes?
I’m not at all sure what right-wing flags from a by-gone era have to do with it, either. Or the guns. Who are they expecting to shoot? The virus? The scrubs-clad nurses who stood in front of their trucks on the roads leading to the hospital?
And this insane behaviour is condoned, indeed approved, by the Commander in Chief.
I know it’s boring being stuck indoors folks, but history has a warning. If the lockdown ends too soon, the second wave will kill millions. That’s precisely what happened at the end of the first world war, with troops returning in crowded ships and everyone having victory parades and parties. The Spanish flu of 1918 is an almost forgotten foot note in history, coming as it did at the end of the war to end all wars.
“The virus infected 500 million people worldwide and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims— that’s more than all of the soldiers and civilians killed during World War I combined. “ [Here’s the history] The article is not long and easy to read.
As it happens, today is ANZAC Day when Australians and New Zealanders commemorate those who lost their lives in war. There are no WW1 vets left – but I wonder how many of those young men and women who survived the horror of that ghastly war succumbed to Spanish flu? It’s a particularly nasty way to die.
In the interests of completeness, here’s a post written by a person who has covid-19 (and is recovering from it). It’s called ‘What I wish I had known when I got covid-19‘. If you’re wondering what it feels like, here’s one person’s view.
Here endeth the lesson. Let’s all head off to the beach (suitably socially distancing) for an encounter with the Egyptian god of writing, magic, wisdom, and the moon.
In ancient Egypt the Nile ibis was venerated as a god. In Australia the Australian white ibis isn’t venerated at all. In fact, in some places the species is despised. Unlike birds like the osprey, which is the same species the world over, the African sacred ibis is a different species to the Australian white ibis, although they look the same.
In many parts of Australia the silver seagull is the primary scavenger. They’ll hang around at the beach or anywhere there’s a fish and chip shop, ready to pinch your meal. Their populations have exploded around the council rubbish dumps and at night you’ll see them wheeling around the light towers at sporting grounds, catching insects.
Having moved from Perth to Melbourne, and from there to Hervey Bay I was well used to the seagull pest. But it’s not like that here. Sure, if you eat your fish and chips at the beach you might attract two or three seagulls. After all, why not? But they are not here in huge numbers and they tend to stay on the beach where they can get a good feed from fish carcasses left on the sand by irresponsible anglers. The water teems with fingerlings and tiny crabs so dinner is never a problem.
The scavenger bird here is the ibis. They hang around the park benches opposite the premier fish ‘n chip shop, cadging for a dropped chip, or they’ll rummage through the bins where you put your rubbish. (Hence ‘bin chicken’) The council rubbish tip is next to a small lake and the ibises congregate there in their hundreds. We often see two or three in our yard. They’re after any left-over scraps not eaten by the birds we feed. That is to say, they’ll grab the bread before the smaller birds can get it. We try to shoo them off but they’re sneaky/smart and pretend to fly off then hide around a corner until we go inside.
After lots of rain, they’re welcome garden visitors because they pace over the sodden ground looking for grubs in the wet soil. They hunt using that long, curved bill, stabbing into the dirt – thereby aerating the soil.
Unlike the parrots, who squawk around in untidy flocks, ibises fly in formation, either in the familiar V or simply line astern. We see them often at sundown, heading for home. And it’s interesting that they roost in trees – the same trees the bats roost in during the day. The ibises take the higher branches and at dawn they’ll go off to forage while the bats go to sleep.
But they also do the ‘back to nature’ thing and pop off to the beach at low tide to feast on the little crabs that come out of the sand to filter out whatever nutrients the high tide cast up. These two are patrolling the shallows, looking for small fish or crabs. Notice that deep red blood vessel along the wing.
I found a fascinating Youtube piece (~3 mins) which indicates ibises that live in cities are evolving into a sub-species – the REAL bin chickens. Take a look.
Stay safe and keep washing your hands, everybody. The idea of all this self-isolation is that when the lockdown is lifted, we’ll be able to see each other – and nobody will be missing.