Earth Day 2021

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This Earth Day let us reinvigorate relationships with the earth. 

Despite the ecological violence that is systematically metered out to earth systems by human activities, the earth still contains the deep codes which are necessary to sustain life. We can learn from these codes. We can also bring them into our contemporary lives. At UCRF we recognise that we must act to make life, including our fashion life, ecologically rich and diverse.

On this day of special focus on earth and earth systems, we offer two perspectives, one from the Northern hemisphere’s spring and the other from the Southern hemisphere’s autumn.

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The April day is gorgeous, there is a clear sky and there is a small warmth in the sun – an amount that seems surprising given I am in the high ground of the north of England. As I follow a contour through a field with sheep and thistles, the call of curlews bounce off the hills and the ceiling of the sky. The curlews are on the wing, in pairs, their large, speckled brown bodies moving, loose and easy. Against the sky, I can pick them out but with the land as backdrop, they disappear, their camouflage complete. It is a feat, like the flick of a switch. Seen. Unseen. As I climb over a pass, a single curlew calls out and then flies up in a tussle with a crow. The curlew chases the crow and her white chest flashes as she dives and swoops on it, mobbing it, like she is a hawk. Two birds in one: languid brown wader and white dart. Both parts of her live in this stony, coarse reed, grass-tussocky valley. The land is rich in life but it’s not prototypically pretty, easily overlooked if postcards are your business. KF

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Shortly after returning to Sydney, Australia, I went for a run in Centennial Park. It takes a moment for me, a birdwatcher, to recalibrate my eyes, ears and psyche to the avian inhabitants of Gadigal country. The landscape and the soundscape are distinct and I’m rusty after a decade away: I’m keen to greet my neighbours. On this August run a flash of luminous white catches my eye: a crested pigeon with leucism that gives him a shiny white back. (I assume he’s a he; his mate is usually close by.) I say hello, take some photos and keep running. The following week he is sitting on a fence circling the running track. He looks at me and coos quietly as I run past; again I say hello. Over subsequent months I’ve greeted him on many runs, always in the same spot. Just as often he’s not there and I feel his absence. This morning, thinking about this writing task during my run, I see him and I pause. He runs to me, seemingly as delighted to see me as I am him. I chat to him for a couple of minutes and he circles me excitedly. I get on my way, he returns to dancing with his mate. This relationship of eight months has me grateful to be part of earth. TR

1 Comment

  1. These are such beautifully recalled encounters with nature. I love how richly Kate draws forth, with so few words, a sense of multiple entangled species at play within an under-appreciated landscape. I love how Timo shifts the expected point of view of a birder surreptitiously observing, to a birder participating in the encounter — both seeing and being seen.

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