D for Deadline for Diversity

D is for Deadline for Diversity in all our nature, where WE are true to ourselves and THEM in the space for empathy,art, imagination. D for Drag Race and the delights of diversity expressed through creativity helps us survive and adapt to a changing world. D is also for Diversity in Durnesh in Donegal

Deadline for Diversity

Deadline took on a new meaning for me during the pandemic. Covid was a constant reminder of the simmering conflicts over our failure to create an equitable, sustainable future. With every cancelled flight, I asked myself would I be able to sustain my relationship with Schorse in Berlin? Silence hovered over the long-forgotten Agenda 21 from the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Would I be able to plant a woodland as planned to keep climate action on the agenda in south Donegal? Forbidden to attend Sunday Mass in Ireland further reversed centuries of Irish Catholic compulsion.

Memories of the mesh of murmured secrecy in the carved wood of the confessional box in the old church in Strabane wound their way up the spiral of time. When the government instructed those over seventy to “cocoon”, anxieties from past and present surfaced as I thought of my endgame. Other times of cocooning in the closet before LBGTQ+ opened the door. Feminists fought about transgender. Would trees help me face what the labels and diversity mean to an old-Irish-cis-bisexual woman looking out over Donegal Bay?

Deadline in 2021 no longer meant the point where I launch a novel into the public domain or plant a new raised bed in the vegetable garden, or plant shrubs, trees, and flowers in the wild half acre of Carraig Gorm or take flight through my back door to Berlin.  The new deadline was to plant a native woodland in April 2021 after the departure of whooper swans. Obstacles to putting trees in the ground s were many – ignorance at all levels (including mine) of what conservation really means or how it affects our daily food, water and weather, Ireland’s past deforestation of native trees and the failure to meet the targets for replanting – and now the postponement of everything due to the Covid pandemic.

Durnesh loch entered my life a couple of decades ago when I went with Schorse to observe the whooper swans who migrate from Iceland to winter here. The loch and the surrounding landscape gave me a different perspective on my lifelong connection to south Donegal. Born in 1949 in Strabane in Ulster on a border created in 1922 which divided Ulster,  I trace how the environment has helped me meet the challenges of my seven decades. Facts, fairy tales, fiction and poetry mingle in the climate challenge hovering over the planet. Trees and their antennae reach out into the history of the border through Ulster and through me. 

The 2km limit on my outings during the early stages of the pandemic was not far enough to avoid the gyrations of my time spiral through past, present and my visions of the future. The open bottle of wine with my evening meal did its best to persuade me to avoid facing the cold realities of the pandemic but my survival instinct kicked in and I corked the bottle. The drug of Zoom, Google or other screens offered nothing powerful enough to distract me. Trees persuaded me to take a step up into the air with a fresh look at my endgame.

I found a forester who spoke the language of ecology and enthusiasm for native trees. He found me an independent ecologist who would provide the reassurance needed that the woodland would be the right fit for the Special Area of Conservation. Preparation for planting identified a spring that could be left to fill a mighty pond leaving three small islands of hawthorn. Ditches rambling through the planting area have more hawthorn, willow, and some sycamore.

Return of the Native (@VronWare)

The presence of self-planted sycamore raised questions for me about what is native. When I came back to live on the farm of my grandfather, I didn’t feel like a native of Donegal because I wasn’t born here but across the border in the United Kingdom. My father was born in Scotland 1902 when his father who had taken seasonal work in Scotland as a “tatie hoker”, later found work on a horse and cart delivering coal in Glasgow. Daddy came back with his mother and a Scottish accent to live with my grandmother’s brother, Cormac Quinn. When Granda returned, they moved into a small house with a mud floor of which nothing now remains.

Trees help me create a perspective on the time spiral. My father’s late marriage and the late marriage of my maternal grandfather from Glenties (born in 1859) mean I feel a close connection to the 19th century as both my grandfathers grew up in the years following the famine. My grandparents and parents were also born in an Ireland united under British rule. I was born in a divided Ulster in 1949.  Vron Ware’s Return of the Native (pub. Repeater) kept me sane through a crazy-heart-cracking spiral of memory in 2022.

Think global, act local

When the United Nations Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, I was working on the rights of children, employed by Save the Children Fund, and based in Manchester in England.. Enthusiasm for taking better care of the planet and the people who inhabit it was everywhere in the 1990’s. Governments made policies; volunteers set up organisations and lobby groups. Manchester City Council held a Global Forum as follow-up to the Earth Summit. Agenda 21 was shorthand for the actions which we would take before 2021. What happened since then? We continue to fight about what all different:all equal means. We increased the gap between rich and poor on the planet, we degraded more habitat, financial institutions worked out how to exploit more people to support the gross overconsumption of those who already have too much. Look up Think Global Forum on the internet and you find out about how to market your business globally. The Agenda 21 slogan of the Earth Summit has been hijacked into the present to mean “global brand values, and local market culture”. Governments and corporations tempted us into the consumerism which melts icecaps, removes forests, and smothers rivers, seas and trees with plastic packaging.

In 2021 during the restrictions of the Covid pandemic, while I mourned the loss of habitat globally, my focus on local action was translated into a frenzy of emails, phone calls, networking to lobby support for the native woodland in Rossnowlagh. The submission for planning permission got stuck somewhere but was finally dislodged in Spring 2021 just in time to plant the trees. The forester who had submitted the plan for the woodland could work outdoors through the pandemic. When we witnessed the planting twelve thousand one hundred trees in 2021, it helped me face my despair at the decades of our failure to think global and act local.

Inspired by reading Manchan Magan’s book, Thirty-two Words for Field, I looked up the Irish name of the townland where we planted the native woodland.The Irish place name for Durnesh is Doirinis,which tells me the drumlin of freshly planted saplings was once-upon-a-time a densely wooded grove of trees (Doire)  on a peninsula (Inis).  The Irish name of two syllables tells of a past which is not recorded in the history books. In my lifetime and centuries of those who have gone before me, the drumlin had long been long used for grazing livestock. The peninsula stretches into the loch which was once-upon-another-time an inlet from the Atlantic and now has a narrow opening to the sea where a “man-made” sluice controls the tide. At the end of the last century the loch was recognised as a special protection area because of its importance to migrating birds. The mix of retreating salt water and the fresh water from the many springs provide the conditions for plant life to feed the whooper swans over the winter. @ManchanMagan

Easkey Britton, @easkeysurf  a native of Rossnowlagh is a water- eco-warrior and was born on the shores of Doirinis. Glimpses of a better and wiser way of life in her book Salt water in my blood restore my energy and my faith that ECO will triumph over the power of EGO in future generations as we struggle to combat the worst effects of climate change. We have new deadlines for living with diversity.

D for Drag  Queen Lewis G. Burton, says “Drag is not necessarily a man dressing as a woman anymore, it has become an art form. It’s become a culture.nspired by diversity. I struggled through 2022 and will put my heart into the new deadlines for living with diversity. ECO will outlast EGO.

 @lewisgburton @PantiBliss @rupaul @ ianmasterson @RuPaulsDragRace.

Post punk band do Equal But Different: BBC Sessions 79-81 Album  on  lyrics.com/album/241799

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