This week, for some reason, my eyes and ears seem to have been particularly tuned into contrasts and juxtapositions. Here are some that have struck me:
- The contrast between the hectic craziness and complexity of carrying out my ecologist role versus the simplicity of yoga teaching. The former is summed up by the photograph below of the back of my car. All you need for the latter is a mat and enough space to fling a few limbs about.
Aaagh, the madness… (newt traps – aka plastic bottles and canes, ladder, high-vis, high-powered torch, wellies – such are the tools of one of my trades!)
This contrast adds variety to my life, which I so need, but can be challenging at times as I flick between the two. But, it has to be said, the distinction is not pure. There are of course moments of serenity in the outdoorsy life of an ecologist, which is why I entered the profession in the first place. Take this morning for example – having been up emptying newt traps and checking reptile mats since 7am, I found a moment of calm to stop work, lie back on some convenient decking adjacent to the tranquil River Avon and catch some rays on my pale winter skin, listening to the joyous bird chorus and hearing fish jumping in the lazy current next to me.
A serene sunset moment, whilst setting newt traps in a pond.
Staring up at the blossom whilst ‘working’ from a prone position.
Similarly, occasionally teaching yoga can be touched by chaos. For example, this evening I managed to spill half a litre of water inside my rucksack moments before class started. Inexplicably, I was carrying in said bag no fewer than four of the notebooks that I use for my compulsive scribblings, and all are now sodden, with my treasured words fading back into the nothingness from which they were once conjured. Sad times. It was an effort to retain a chilled zen-like state as I flapped around, draping notebooks over radiators and muttering about ‘lost words’ to the bemusement of my students. Then, adding an additional layer of mayhem, the shopping bag I was carrying on my handlebars disintegrated whilst I cycled home from the class, scattering a box of almond milk, expensive sunglasses and a bag of prunes across the road (random assortment, I know). I watched a car approach the flotsam at high speed, missing my sunglasses by millimetres and spectacularly spraying almond milk across the tarmac. Strangely beautiful.
- The second contrast is a little more concise, you’ll be pleased to hear. I was at the Stratford-on-Avon Literary Festival on Saturday, attempting to give my novel-writing efforts a motivational kick up the bum by attending a creative writing workshop. Whilst wandering the streets at lunchtime, feeling like a touristic microbe in Stratford’s teeming petri dish, my attention was caught by a group of tourists being shown the sights by no less than old Bill Shakespeare himself, even down to the the ridiculous Elizabethan pantaloons and the bald head with a wisp of hair. Suddenly, wherever I looked all I could see were truly awful Shakespeare puns and pointless tourist tat. I felt a little bit nauseous. Luckily, across the road, fluttering serenely on the breeze, I saw the following sign, bringing me back to reality from the cheesy faux Shakespearean world, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Thanks for keeping it real, Barry.
I tried to think of a witty meat-based Shakespearean pun here but failed spectacularly apart from ‘When will we free meat again?’ Perhaps I now have a little bit more respect for the Stratford punners. Any ideas for good puns anyone?!
- Finally, and I believe this one is more of a juxtaposition than a contrast (correct me if I’m wrong), the following photo highlights a criminal example of unsympathetic town planning, with one of Stratford’s gems (Anne Hathaway’s cottage) being eclipsed by the 60s monstrosity that is the Shakespeare Centre:
Lathe and plaster versus concrete.