Since early childhood when I lived in the Lake District of England in an old farmhouse, I have been afraid of bats. Well not exactly afraid, but they are a species of mammal whose company I can happily do without. In Britain bats are now a protected species. If anyone in Britain harms them it can result in a hefty fine or even a prison sentence, but repulsive as they are to me it has to be admitted that they are garden friendly. They devour hundreds of thousands of insects, many of them garden pests. In Britain bats are a spring and summer phenomenon. In Guyana you have them year round. Probably the commonest bats on the coastal strip are the fruit bats, although there are certainly insect-eating bats as well. They probably shift tons of insects. It would be very interesting to learn just how many species of bats there are throughout Guyana.
I know that many people start their day off with a cup of coffee. My particular morning drink however is tea, and I am hooked on it, getting through more than a dozen cups a day. I am sure that it does me no good at all, but I take some comfort from the Chinese. The Chinese have developed herbal remedies for all sorts of ailments over thousands of years. Some of them work, and a special kind of tea has attracted the attention of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. It is called Yin Zhi Huang and is based on Artemisia capillaris and two or three other herbs. Now the Artemisia family are known in the west as Wormwoods, and are valued as small ornamental shrubs. They have been used in Britain since well before the 17th century for their medicinal properties. This school of medicine in Houston seems to have determined that this plant, used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of jaundice actually does the trick.
In Tasmania rare myrtles, celery top pines, giant ferns and gums reaching over 300ft high are now at severe risk due to man’s insatiable demand for wood chips. The destruction of these woodlands and forests will take thousands of years to grow back again, if ever. In fact Tasmania exports more wood chips than any other nation on earth, except for the United States.
It is always a dangerous thing for a people or a nation state to become too dependent on a single crop for its survival. For example, one of the staples of the European diet is the potato, introduced there from this very continent. Its introduction led to the European population increasing enormously during the 18th and 19th centuries. The climatic conditions there were ideal, and nowhere more so than in Ireland. Their almost total dependence resulted in a catastrophe when this crop was affected by blight. Over a million Irish people died as a result and a million more migrated to the United States.
I fear for countries which derive their main existence from one crop or another and are subject to wild and sometimes grossly unfair changes in earning capacity. I am thinking of St Lucia and its bananas and to some extent, of this country’s sugar. It is obvious that variety is the spice of life, and would that we could find some crops that could lessen our dependence, but what?
When you can get onto your ground take the chance to trim old flowers and dead wood off your roses, and maybe even shape them a little. It will help the next crop of flowers. Until next week may your God go with you wherever you may be.